NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Burlington County-based water treatment company successfully protested a bid to provide work at the city's water treatment plant.

Municipal Maintenance Co. of Cinnaminson was awarded the contract to provide mechanical and electrical maintenance and emergency repair work at the city's water treatment plant and pump stations. Originally, Morris County-based Longo Electrical-Mechanical received the contract.

Municipalities use a bidding process to help assure fairness. Typically, the lowest bidder is given the contract.

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City Administrator Daniel Torrisi said that Longo had bid $110,700 and Municipal Maintenance had bid $127,175.

During Tuesday's City Council meeting, however, Mike Provine of Municipal Maintenance pointed out that the city requires companies to own three, six-inch and one, eight-inch diesel drive bypass pumps for energy use.

Provine said that Longo should be disqualified because it doesn't own its own pumps.

"My primary objection is the pumping," Provine said. "I take the mobile pumping very seriously. I believe that's a big part of this contract. My company owns 25 of these mobile pumps and we have reserve pumps for the city of New Brunswick. In the event of a major storm, it doesn't have to be right away with a storm, it could be well into the storm, pumps from a, say, third party could be gone."

A representative of Longo said the company does not own its own pumps. He argued that the city's requirements were "restrictive." He said that there is no guarantee that in the case of an emergency that Municipal Maintenance would have the pumps available.

It was oddly reminiscent of a hearing that was held between the two companies in the same council chambers last year. During Tuesday's meeting, city attorney TK Shamy pointed out that Municipal Maintenance won a similar challenge last year after it was the second-lowest bidder for city work and Longo had submitted the lowest bid.

One resident praised the council for not awarding the contract to Longo after Joseph Michael Longo pleaded guilty in 2016 to four counts of tampering with public records.

Coincidentally, Longo was sentenced to two years probation and fined $300,000 in Middlesex County Superior Court, which is just yards away across Bayard Street from where Tuesday's meeting was held in City Hall.

Longo was later pardoned by former Gov. Chris Christie. Records reveal that Longo had donated to Christie's 2009 campaign.