To the Editor:
I had the opportunity to read your piece, "Spirited Council Discussions Continue" related to the Council meeting Tuesday night. The sequence of events that you describe, regarding the Health Insurance Broker, is not the way in which it played out.
The truth is that Conner Strong & Buckelew (CSB), our previous/existing insurance broker...provided a proposal which capped their fees at $50,000, (the only firm which did so in their first proposal). After the interview process, the new firm...Doyle Alliance Group, Inc. (DAG) was going to be awarded the contract despite the fact that they only submitted a proposal that reflected “an annual retainer on a commission basis”…at the rate of “standard carrier commissions or your current commission schedule”. In addition, the proposal initially submitted referenced “our standard hourly billable rates…at $250,…$150…and $90” depending on the seniority of the person doing the work. When the resolution was put up for vote, Mr. Underhill assigned a dollar amount of $90,000, which was the amount paid last year, as a reflection of their proposal as stated above.
When I questioned this, Mr. Underhill said that he would look into it and get back to the council. When the answer came back, all of the sudden DAG...the firm that the Mayor had wanted to appoint in the previous meeting, had put a cap on their proposal in the amount of $48,000. It would appear that the second bite at the apple was beneficial to their winning proposal...or the voting majority of the council never read the details of CSB's original proposal to know that they had proposed a cap from the start. Either way...the process/outcome seemed to be predetermined as I and Councilman Marcus assert.
While this does result in a savings to the Township...we would have realized a comparable savings had we stayed with the existing broker, Conner Strong & Buckelew. In addition, Conner Strong & Buckelew had put the cap into their original proposal...and was never given the opportunity to "negotiate" as was DAG.
The larger point is that twice during this process, proposed vendors were given the chance to re-submit proposals when others were not...and, it so happens that those who were able to re-submit were the firms that The Mayor wanted hired.
Although this process is not illegal...it is extremely unfair and discouraging to other providers who might want to compete for the Township's business.
Councilman Bo Vastine
Scotch Plains Township Council