School Bus Company Withdraws Fuel Charge Request

The controversy over whether to approve the changes for an added fuel surcharge to the contract of the Malden Transportation Co. (MT) came to an end at Monday’s night School Committee meeting when the MT owners withdrew their request to seek a contract change due to added fuel costs.

In March, the School Committee received a request from the owners of MT seeking to amend the contract to receive a 4.5% fuel increase because of higher gasoline prices.  The added fuel surcharges that would have started in March and end in June when the contract expires would have cost Everett taxpayers an additional $60,000.

At Monday’s night meeting, two members of the public spoke during the public comment period with one saying, “Malden Transportation’s request to change the contract was outrageous and an insult to Everett taxpayers.”

The first part of the request from MT to alter the existing contract resulted in the request from the administration to deny any amendments to existing contracts that result in increased costs of contracted services.

Robert Moreschi, the Chief Procurement Agent for Everett, appeared before the committee to answer questions that might arise from this matter. He noted “that every contract is different and that a fuel surcharge is applicable for many vendors.” He added, “Every contract should be taken on a case-by-case basis.”

School Committeeman Marcony Barrios questioned approving the request from MT saying, “The price of food is high. We could open a potential request from other vendors. There is a budget that we must keep in mind.”

Ward 4 School Committeeman Michael Mangan questioned the validity of changing contracts saying, “Contracts should not be in front of us.”

The committee voted in favor of the superintendent’s position to deny the request by a 7-2 vote.

After the vote was taken, an email from MT’s owners was read to the committee saying, “We withdraw the fuel surcharge request. We feel that we are caught in the political crossfire. “

Ward 6 Committeeman Michael McLaughlin then spoke briefly on his original motion to amend the existing contract to allow a 4.5% fuel surcharge retroactive back to March 1 with an end date of June 30. “I have been under attack for weeks,” McLaughlin said. “We should give vendors the opportunity to be heard.” He then offered to send his motion “back to sponsor” and that ended the debate.  The committee voted unanimously to approve McLaughlin’s request, which essentially put the matter to rest.

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