No bids required for parish cleanup

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 11, 2010

By Tom Aswell

Contributing Writer

BATON ROUGE — The St. John the Baptist parish government does not have to advertise for bids for weed eradication and debris removal from ditches and canals throughout the parish, according to a legal opinion provided by the Louisiana attorney general’s office.

Parish attorney Jeffrey Perilloux requested the opinion on behalf of the parish, saying it was anticipated that the parish would spend more than $150,000 on the cleanup project.

Assistant Attorney General Michael J. Vallan said that under the state’s public bid law, contracts for public works projects exceeding $150,000 must be advertised and let to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder.

“A public works project means the erection, construction, alteration, improvement or repair of any public facility or immovable property owned, used or leased by a public entity,” Vallan said. “Public works projects that are estimated to cost less than $150,000 are not subject to the advertising and bidding requirements….and may be undertaken by the public entity with its own employees or may be negotiated with one or more contractors.”

Based on the language of state statute, Vallan said, “It is our opinion that the proposed plan does not fall under the purview of Louisiana’s public bid law.

Weed eradication and debris removal from ditches and canals do not involve the erection, construction, alteration, improvement, or repair of immovable property.

“Therefore, such activities do not meet the definition of a public work and accordingly are not subject to the competitive bidding requirements of the Louisiana public bid law.”

In support of his opinion, Vallan cited a pair of court decisions that held that cleanup contracts following Hurricane Katrina did not come under the state’s public bid law.