Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Randy Goodman, who has installed the Christmas decorations with his family in downtown Salisbury for nearly 25 years, won’t hang the star on the Square this November while dressed as Santa.
Goodman missed the deadline to bid on the project.
He was at the beach with his family when the city mailed a bid request to his house. The day he returned from vacation, Goodman said he went through the mail, found the letter and started filling out his bid.
City Planner Lynn Raker, who uses Goodman to install public art for the city, called to ask if he was bidding because officials were preparing to open the proposals. Goodman said he told Raker he could have his bid to City Hall in 30 minutes.
Too late, the city told him.
“We were just going by our state-mandated bidding standards,” Raker said. “When you have a time that bids must be in, you can’t extend that time.”
Raker said Goodman knew ahead of time about the bid process.
Goodman said he’s at fault, not the city. He said he plans to bid next year and hopes to continue doing other work for the city.
In the past, things were less formal.
Goodman said he installed, removed and stored the decorations for Downtown Salisbury Inc. for about $3,400 a year. He lost the job once to a competitor but earned it back after it turned out the cheaper bid included putting up the decorations, but not taking them down.
This year, Salisbury Tourism Development Authority has taken over the holiday decorations project from Downtown Salisbury. The TDA will spend $60,000 on new decorations, installation, removal and storage.
The TDA pays the city $9,000 a year to help manage its money and has adopted the city’s purchasing policy, so Anna Bumgarner, the city’s purchasing manager, handled the bid procedure for the decorations.
Two bid requests went out — one for the decorations, another for installation.
The TDA plans to buy between 70 and 80 large, traditional Christmas wreaths with red bows, LED lights, frosted pinecones and red balls. Salisbury City Council will see a prototype today at 4 p.m.
The wreaths will decorate light poles throughout downtown, replacing the 14-year-old angels and stars — 68 in all — that are showing their age and have outlived their life expectancy of 10 years. Christmas cheer will extend up and down Innes Street this year, with white lights in the medians and on trees along the sidewalks.
Officials have not yet awarded the contracts and would not release the bids to the Post. State law allows bids between $30,000 and $90,000 to remain confidential until a contract is awarded.
City Attorney Rivers Lawther said he interprets the law to pertain to bids of less than $30,000 as well, such as the bids for installation.
Officials opened four bids on June 20 for installation, Raker said. Two companies bid on the decorations, and those proposals were opened June 7.
While the city has a valid bid in hand for installation, officials “aren’t completely certain that we’re going to execute or award that contract,” said Joe Morris, director of Community Planning Services. “We think there may be a better way to do it.”
The contract for the decorations likely will be awarded soon, Morris said, so the wreaths will arrive before the Holiday Caravan to kick-off the Christmas season.
The TDA plans to replace the old Christmas decorations over three years, starting with the wreaths and median lights.
So this Christmas, the same star that Goodman has been placing over the Square for years likely will reappear, Raker said.
But someone else will hang it.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.