Richland County starts over process for penny tax management fir - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Richland County starts over process for penny tax management firm

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It's back to square one since Richland County Council rescinded an offer to a firm tapped to manage billions generated by the transportation penny tax.

Richland County Council unanimously decided to rescind its offer to ICA Engineering at its Feb. 4 meeting. The decision followed a protest filed by one of the five proposing firms, which claimed the most qualified firm was not selected.

The firm representatives answered Council's request to sign a five-year contract with a managing firm to organize public input, financial modeling, scheduling and construction of various projects that will be funded by the penny sales tax. Residents voted in 2012 to increase their sales tax by one penny to fund transportation projects in the county and to give the bus system more revenue.

Richland County received five proposals from managing firms that would hire sub-contractors and oversee the projects and billions of taxpayer dollars generated by the penny sales tax. Those proposals came from ICA Engineering, CECS, Michael Baker Group, Enviro-AG Science and MB Kahn Construction Co. The county intended to contract with ICA Engineering in January.

WIS filed a Freedom of Information Act request Jan. 14 with Richland County after questions were raised about whether the company that scored the highest was actually given the contract. WIS received a response to that FOIA on Feb. 5, stating the county was reviewing the documents and will contact WIS when the non-exempt material is available for release.

County Transportation Director Rob Perry said companies were ranked based on a list of priorities that included whether they are local or out-of-state and how much business they will do with local disadvantaged businesses, as well as other criteria.

WIS asked for the rankings the five companies received during the procurement process. The County legal office said some of the information may be proprietary and is still considering our FOIA request.

Richland County plans to request firm proposals again in March. The companies that competed before are allowed to participate again in the second process. County officials said the proposal process will follow local and state guidelines to give all firms a chance to file competitively.

WIS will continue to follow this story and will update as new information is available.

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