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Inside City Hall: A banner day for new cars and computers

City agencies authorized to spend $22.6 million for 2012 model cars and computer equipment.

Above: This city car was used on Monday evening to transport Occupy Baltimore tentpoles after city workers put the protesters’ tent in a garbage truck.

Coming soon to your neighborhood – shiny white vehicles bearing the city’s markings – courtesy of the Baltimore Board of Estimates, which yesterday approved up to $10.6 million for new municipal cars and small trucks.

Roughly 500 vehicles can be purchased through next January by city agencies before the government reaches the maximum dollar limit set by the board.

In addition, the panel approved $12 million for city agencies to stock up on computer equipment and information technology hardware.

In terms of spending priorities, the city’s plan to turn over about 18 youth recreation centers to private parties – or close them – would save the city about $400,000 a year, according to the mayor’s Recreation Center Task Force.

36 Different Makes

About those cars: all 2012 models, the vehicles will range in price from $14,296 for a Ford Fiesta to $50,235 for a Chevy Silverado pickup with a hybrid powertrain and extended cab.

Agencies can choose from 36 different makes of sedans, SUVs, passenger vans, cargo vans and pickups, with all sorts of adds-on and accessories.

Nearly all of the new wheels will be Chevys or Fords, with a smattering of Jeeps and Dodge Durangos. (The city eschews “foreign-made” vehicles and – the above-mentioned Silverado excepted – advertised for few gasoline-electric hybrids.)

The Police Caprice

A review of the bid documents by The Brew shows that the Police Department is slated to be the largest consumer of 2012 cars.

The board authorized up to $2.5 million for the Chevy Caprice Police Unit – complete with flashing lights and sirens – at $31,195 per unit. At that price, the police could purchase about 80 vehicles.

Three other cars designated for police use: the Chevy Impala marked unit ($21,377), Chevy Impala unmarked unit ($21,331) and Chevy Tahoe “police package” SUV ($25,676). The prices include accident and personal liability insurance provided by the dealer.

Under the contract approved yesterday, known as a “master blanket purchase order,” city agencies can order cars through the Bureau of Fleet Management.

Typically, city inspectors and water meter readers tool around in low-end vehicles, such as the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Chevy Aveo.

Top agency heads can choose from a selection of SUVs (Ford Explorer, Chevy Tahoe or Jeep Liberty), while potential jailbirds may find themselves in a Chevy Express with a “two-section prison transportation system” ($33,625).

No Local Provider

Six fleet dealers will supply the new vehicles to the city.

The biggest contract, totaling $3.9 million, was awarded to the Charles S. Winner Group of Cherry Hill, N.J. The other major suppliers were Chapman Chevrolet of Philadelphia ($3.4 million), Criswell Chevrolet of Gaithersburg, Md. ($1.8 million) and Apple Ford of Columbia ($1.2 million)

The sole bidder from Baltimore – Chesapeake Ford Truck Sales – bid on Econoline vans and F250 pickups. It was underbid and did not receive any contracts.

$12 Million More for Computers

The $12 million allocated for “computer hardware, software and related items for various agencies” was added onto an existing $5 million contract for computer equipment.

That contract, approved by the panel on August 11, 2010, was “an estimate based on the previous computer hardware and software contract expenditures.”

However, “due to a substantial increase in demand for computer hardware and software commodities resulting from network growth and an upsurge in needs by the various end-user agencies, an increase is needed for the remainder of the contract term,” the board’s agenda noted.

As a result, the board more than tripled the contract to $17 million. Eleven IT companies will supply the computer equipment under more than a dozen separate contracts.

The three largest vendors are Digicon Corp. of Rockville, Md. ($3.2 million), Data Networks of Hunt Valley ($3 million), and USC Canterbury of Stevenson ($2.2 million).

The computer contracts will end on August 11, 2013.

Other Contracts

In other action, the five-member board – comprised of City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (represented yesterday by Finance Director Edward Gallagher), City Comptroller Joan Pratt, Public Works Director Alfred Foxx and City Solicitor George Nilson – approved the following:

• $2.7 million in federal Head Start funds to Johns Hopkins Hospital to provide services to 185 children and their families. The award, covering the last six months of 2011 and first six months of 2012, was late for approval “because of the delays in the administrative review process.”

• $1.3 million to Whitman, Requardt & Associates to provide engineering services for improvements to the “Patapsco sewershed.” The company will review the rehabilitation or replacement of about 95,000 feet of sanitary sewers, “provide technical consultation, attend progress meetings and perform conditional and final inspections” for the bureau of water and wastewater.

• $645,480 to Chase Brexton Health Services to provide services to HIV patients and management services for the Ryan White Part B Program. These are federal funds administered through the city Health Department.

• $436,000 to P. Flanigan & Sons as low bidder to renovate five playlots and playgrounds for the city Recreation and Parks Department.

Gwendolyn Chambers, spokesperson for Rec and Parks, provided us with the following details of the improvements: For Aiken and Lafayette Playlot: new play climber, rubber surfacing and ornamental fencing. For Violetville Park Playgrond: replace mulch safety surfacing with rubber. For Middle Branch Park: remove stones at existing dirt driveway and install curb, repair brick pavement. For Kimberleigh Playlot: remove existing play equipment, rehab fence, install new climber and swings, resurface asphalt, gamelines, new rubber surfacing. For Buena Vista Playground: remove existing play equipment and fencing, install new climber and swings, repair asphalt on basketball court, gamelines, new rubber surfacing.

• $294,163 to McCormick Taylor Inc. for “on-call” consulting of neighborhood street reconstruction for the city Department of Transportation. There were no further details.

• $220,983 in state and federal funds to the House of Ruth for home visits and legal advocacy for women and families under the threat of domestic violence. Work would include reducing the current backlog of domestic violence warrants and hiring an aide to work with “high danger victims” and help prosecutors achieve better court outcomes.

• $125,000 to the University of Maryland to train Police Department officers in an undergraduate criminal justice leadership program. UM will develop and deliver the program to 25 officers and may increase the number of participants over the course of the one-year contract.

• $7,892 for three city water and wastewater officials (Rudolph Chow, Blake Bornkessel and Shaaron Phillips) to attend the Utility Management Conference in Miami. About one-quarter of the request will go for registration fees.

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