DFT loses bid, hits village over banners
DFT Communications has a long history with Fredonia’s village government. The telecommunications company is headquartered on Temple Street within sight of Village Hall, and donated the bus kiosk that stands outside. They also let the village hang banners over Temple Street for free.
There could be some tension in the relationship now, judging by two things that happened at Monday’s Fredonia Board of Trustees meeting.
The board passed over DFT in favor of a Jamestown company for a contract to revamp Village Hall’s technology and security systems. That move led to a concerned letter from DFT that was read at the meeting. Also, another communication from DFT criticized the village for erecting Central Connection banners on its utility poles without consulting the company.
The tech contract was awarded to SymLink for “equipment, installation and information technology services for a one-time fee of $7,502 and monthly service fee of $363,” the resolution read.
It was a topic of discussion at the board’s May 24 workshop.
“Just so that you know, I wouldn’t be afraid of the Jamestown connection. Many of their employees are located in the north county. This is also the IT support that the town of Pomfret, the village of Brocton and the town of Dunkirk uses,” Trustee EvaDawn Bashaw said.
Mayor Doug Essek asked how much more DFT’s bid was than SymLink’s, and Clerk AnneMarie Johnston said there was about a $3,000 difference. However, trustees noted that the two bids did not offer the exact same services.
“If they’re not equal services and you’re getting less, plus, we always talk about our small businesses in our communities,” Mayor Doug Essek said.
“Actually, you’re getting more than DFT was offering,” Bashaw said.
“It looks like from what I can tell, and I’m not a big expert in this, the server was the big deal,” Trustee Scott Johnston said. “SymLink was cheaper with the server. The thing with SymLink that was so cool, is that they specify how long that they take getting to problems, troubleshooting to fix, which is really nice. Businesses don’t tend to do that really often.”
“Is that quicker than walking across the street?” Essek asked, with a laugh.
“I know we called a week ago and waited three days for a response on a issue right here in this building. I don’t know how much closer you can get,” Bashaw said.
“It’s up to you guys but I continue to want to support our local businesses,” Essek replied.
“So do we. I think that’s important that we do. But I think when we’re talking about the taxpayer’s dollar, we probably need to go where it gets its best bang for its buck,” Bashaw said.
Trustee James Lynden agreed with that sentiment, noting the village is under very tight budget constraints this year.
The trustees wound up confirming SymLink’s bid on Monday — but not before Johnston read an email to the board from DFT, which she said was signed by the “senior account manager.”
The email stated DFT met with village officials in February on upgrading Village Hall tech services.
“At that time we provided a budgetary quote to be used as a placeholder for the potential future project. Since we provided the budgetary quote, we have had no discussions with the village regarding the project and therefore have no specifications, requirements or details of the project to provide an official bid,” it continued.
DFT’s email asked the village to work with DFT for the opportunity to create a detailed bid, and referred to the “services and support we have provided the village over the years, along with our local presence.” The trustees did not comment on the email before passing the SymLink bid.
Later in the meeting, Essek read a letter from DFT’s president and CEO, Mark Maytum. This letter stated that the company needs to be involved in the placing of any new attachments to utility poles, as it is “critical to ensuring the safety of all workers with utilities on our poles, village employees, the public, and reliability of our systems.”
Maytum outlined a protocol for proposing new attachments.
“We are aware of numerous new attachments to our utility poles in which we did not receive a request or notification,” he wrote. “We are requesting a certificate of insurance immediately from the village … DFT is requiring prior notification for all future attachments, and that special consideration will be repudiated for permanent attachments. Current attachments by the village should be evaluated for safety on a scheduled basis.”
After finishing the letter, Essek asked Johnston to take care of the insurance certificate requested by DFT.