Contractors get Antrim documents after challenge

PAT FRIDGEN

Rather than take on the appeal process, Antrim Township turned over to Fayetteville Contractors the documents it initially denied in a Freedom of Information Act request. The decision by the supervisors was approved after an executive session Sept. 27. The motion came from Rick Baer and Fred Young III, with Curtis Myers and James Byers in agreement. Sam Miller was absent.

Eric Deardorff, assistant secretary and an asphalt manufacturing technician for Fayetteville, had submitted a Right to Know request on Aug. 24. He asked for the 2010 and 2011 paving results, with a detailed breakout on each item from every bidding contractor. He wanted to see the square yard, cubic yard and other figures.

The quantities used for determining the bids "is the results I am asking for," he wrote.

Antrim gave him the dollar bid amounts and the names of the companies. Solicitor John Lisko responded that to share the additional information would give Fayetteville Contractors an unfair advantage in future bids. The data was a trade secret for each company, and Antrim could lose state funding if future bids came in higher.

Fayetteville Contractors appealed to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records on Sept. 16 and hired Ciara C. Craig of Woolford Law PC, Lancaster, to represent them. Kyle Applegate handled the case for the OOR. His first response was that the case was dismissed on Sept. 20 because Fayetteville Contractors did not submit all of the proper paperwork. A copy of the initial request and Antrim's response were not in the appeal packet. The Final Determination was binding, but could be appealed or petitioned for review in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

However, Fayetteville Contractors was still within the 15 business days allowed for the first appeal, so Craig refiled. She argued that the paving bids had been opened publicly, they were not financial records, and the other reasons presented by the township were without merit. She said the higher prices argument by Lisko was "nonsensical", because the information would actually enhance competition.

On Sept. 30 Antrim turned over the requested documents with the explanation "because the supervisors do not want to waste the money of taxpayers of the township to pay for attorney fees to litigate this matter." However, it reserved the right to refuse to supply the documents in the future, the letter said.

Antrim administrator Brad Graham said instead of turning the differences of opinion into a battle, the board just decided to give Fayetteville Contractors the information. It had withheld the figures at first because of Lisko's interpretation of the Municipal Planning Code. The supervisors wanted Antrim to benefit from the bidding process, and if a contractor knew the competitors' numbers, it could potentially unfairly affect bids.

Other requests

Lisko's fees for reviewing Right to Know requests appear almost every month on his detailed bill for services as township solicitor. Among the information people have wanted to know since May were: summary of residential building permits issued, certified payroll records from contractors working on the plumbing contract of the Antrim Township Community Park concession stand, minutes of a board meeting not archived on the township website, audio copies of board meetings, and a copy of the agreement to sell the water system to Greencastle Area Franklin County Water Authority.