Archive for Wednesday, October 17, 2007

School district extends deadline for insurance bids

October 17, 2007

Insurance companies will have more time to bid on the Tonganoxie School District's next property and liability insurance contract.

The bid deadline originally was this month, but the deadline has been extended to Friday, Nov. 16, according to the school's current insurance agent, Monte Giddings of Hawkeye Security in Overland Park.

The contract will then run for a year beginning Dec. 1

The extension came after the Oct. 8 school board meeting in which Tonganoxie insurance agent Diane Bretthauer voiced concerns about agents not being given enough time to review specifications and therefore submit bids.

At the meeting, Bretthauer said she received a letter Sept. 26, dated Sept. 19, from the district's insurance consultant that required that bids be submitted Oct. 19.

The district's consultant is Larry Mears, who is an Atchison attorney.

In an interview Monday, Bretthauer said her concern was with the bidding process and not with the current insurance agent. Bretthauer said he worked with her previously as an underwriter when she worked in the insurance business in Kansas City, Mo. She said Giddings is an "outstanding agent" and that she has "nothing but utmost respect for him or his firm."

Hawkeye Security has been the district's property and liability insurance provider since June 2005.

Superintendent Richard Erickson said the company saved the district about $43,000 when it was awarded the bid in 2005. Erickson compared the previous year's insurance costs, of $184,586 to Tonganoxie company Evans Insurance, to Hawkeye Security's low bid of $141,269 for 2005-06. Erickson did not have specific numbers for 2006-07, but said it was comparable and included a much larger area of coverage because of the new middle school and other renovations at the high school.

The additions nearly doubled the district property's square footage.

"That's pretty incredible to me," Erickson said.

Erickson also hopes the bid extension allows local firms, as well as other companies, to submit bids.

"That's what we want," Erickson said. "A lot of competition provides competitive prices."

Although the contract at one time expired each July, the contract changed to November in 2006. Giddings said the date change was an effort to give insurance agents more time for their proposals.

Giddings said his firm specializes in property and liability insurance for several municipalities and some school districts, including Emporia and Kansas City, Mo.

And, he said he was quite familiar with Tonganoxie; his wife is the former Jill Huebner, a Tonganoxie High School graduate.

At Oct. 8 board meeting, Bretthauer also asked how much the insurance consultant was paid and who approved the hire, whether it was the board or Erickson.

Although that was not discussed during the meeting, Erickson said Tuesday that Mears was paid $2,442 for his consulting fees last year. He is paid at a rate of $100 per hour. If Mears' attorney assists with any consulting, the assistant is paid $50 hourly, Erickson said.

As for the hire, Erickson has the authority as superintendent to make purchasing decisions without board approval if it is less than $5,000.

In addition, a special board meeting to discuss insurance bids later this month will not occur. The Mirror reported that the special meeting was scheduled for Oct. 29. Erickson included scheduling the special meeting as an agenda item. However, the board did not take action.

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