Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The city almost awarded a $1 million sole-source contract whent the chosen vendor was not the sole source

At the last council meeting there  was a resolution on the agenda which would have awarded a sole-source contract to a company called Host Compliance to provide services to help the city enforce the city's regulations of Short-term Rental Property. The company would provide a computer software program and tech support. The system would monitor on-line sites such as Airbnb and then compare those Nashville offerings  with  permits on file and hotel-motel tax payment records. This would  help the city catch those who are illegally operating STRP and help insure that operators are paying the hotel-motel tax. In exchange for this service, the city would pay Host a million dollars for five years of service. One committee of the council had recommended deferral of the resolution, so "by rule" it was deferred.  A resolution, unlike a bill, only has one reading.  If it passes, that is it. (To read more about this issue follow this link and look for RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-519.)

The city is authorized to enter into a sole-source contract when there is a sole source for the product or the service the city is seeking. As it turns out, Host was not the only company that could provide this service. Councilman John Cooper, head of the Budget and Finance questioned the sole-source awarding of the contract and argued the contract should be put out for bids. Administration officials defended the decision to award the contract sole source but reluctantly put it our for bids after being criticized.

Well, what do you know?  Several vendors responded. Host is not the only company that can provide this service. There still are issues about this to be resolved, but John Cooper is to be commended for looking out for the tax payers interest and making the city but the contract out for bids.

I question if this service will be needed at all. A move is afoot to  ban all non-owner occupied STRP.  I think this should be deferred to see what happens to the STRP bill which may or may not ban all but owner-occupied STRP.  Should they be banned, then it seems there would be less need to purchase this program. I doubt they will be banned but I think it would be prudent to wait and see what happens. Also, there is a strong possibility that if Metro's regulation of STRP becomes too onerous, the State will step in and pass statewide regulations regulating STRP and supersede anything Metro passes. Purchasing this programs needs to wait. 

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