DALLAS TWP. — Call it round three of the battle of the school bus contract. Emanuel Bus Lines, the company that handled student transportation in Dallas School District for decades, is seeking a court order blocking or reversing the school board’s decision to give the contract to G. Davis Inc. of Pike County.
The request for injunctive relief was filed Thursday by attorney Jonathan Comitz on behalf of Jeff and Sally Emanuel, the couple that owns the bus line. The paperwork notes Emanuel has been contracted by Dallas for years, and that the two sides routinely negotiated “successor agreements” near the end of each contract.
“Suspiciously, for the first time in its 66 years of doing business with the school dsitrict, Emanuel was informed that a new contract would not be negotiated and instead the bus transportation contract would be placed out for bid,” the court document says.
Only Emanuel and G. Davis submitted bids, with the G. Davis proposal $83,000 lower. The board voted 5-3 at a May 6 work session to award the contract to G. Davis. But at the regular meeting a week later, numerous residents spoke out against that decision, questioning the safety of the all-propane fleet planned by G. Davis.
The board reconsidered, allowing both sides to submit new bids. Emanuel did, but Davis sought a court injunction blocking any reconsideration by the board. That request was withdrawn when the board held a special meeting May 23 and voted again to award the contract to G. Davis.
The paperwork filed Thursday argues that Emanuel’s revised bid was $22,271 less than the original bid by G. Davis, but that “because Davis would be providing new buses, a purported (state) grant of approximately $30,000 caused the total savings from Davis to be more for the school district.” The state encourages newer school buses by increasing reimbursement for younger vehicles.
The paperwork also contends the proposal from Emanuel included transporting students to West Side Career and Technology Center while the G. Davis offer apparently did not.
The paperwork argues the state “grant money” is speculative and would not be available until 2015. “Taking the grant money out of consideration makes Emanuel the lowest responsible bidder.” The paperwork also argues that taxes paid over the years by Emanuel Bus Lines, which is situated in the district, outweigh any state grant money for new buses.
The filing seeks a preliminary injunction on the basis that awarding the contract to G. Davis will cause Emanuel Bus lines “irreperable harm.” In a phone interview Thursday prior to filing the papers, Comitz was blunt.
“This is his last shot. If he doesn’t get this, he goes out of business, and that’s going to impact a lot of people in the Back Mountain.”