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by Mark Reutter4:59 pmNov 2, 20210

BREAKING: Scott withdraws tree planting contract to Baltimore County company

The contract, termed “an outrage” by the Baltimore Tree Trust, has been withdrawn from consideration at tomorrow’s Board of Estimates meeting

Above: Executive Director Bryant Smith with Baltimore Tree Trust neighborhood forester Louis Middleton. (Fern Shen)

Mayor Brandon Scott has withdrawn a $1.6 million tree planting contract going to a landscape company that was up for Board of Estimates approval, the mayor’s office confirmed late today.

The bid from Lorenz Inc. was $650,910 – or 69% – higher than the $946,490 price offered by Baltimore Tree Trust, but the Tree Trust’s low bid was rejected by the purchasing office on a minor technicality.

The Brew reported on the contract and a protest filed yesterday by the Tree Trust, whose executive director, Bryant Smith, termed the planned award to Lorenz “an outrage.”

“This should be an easy choice,” Smith wrote to the Board of Estimates, “a proven, minority-led, city-based nonprofit vendor with a strong performance record that is committed to delivering on the contract to plant 3,000 trees with a cost savings to taxpayers of $650,910. If the Board of Estimates does not exercise discretion in this instance, when would it?”
11/3 UPDATE: In addition to formally withdrawing the Lorenz contract this morning, the BOE stopped two contracts, totaling $310,000, to SiteOne Landscape Supply. A $3 billion-a-year conglomerate based in Cleveland, Ohio, SiteOne had been selected over two local nurseries for the supply of tree stock by the city procurement office.
Earlier today, the spending board planned to defer action on the contract owing to the controversy, The Brew had learned.

Later in the day, Comptroller Bill Henry’s office, which serves as the board’s secretary, said the contract was withdrawn from consideration at the request of the procurement office.

Mayor Brandon Scott’s office, finally, confirmed the action.

“The mayor has withdrawn the contract and provided direction to re-solicit the work. As always, we are committed to providing a transparent and fair process for all involved,” spokesperson Stefanie Mavronis emailed.

Although the Tree Trust’s bid was disqualified on October 6, thereby paving the way for the Lorenz’s higher bid to be submitted to the board, City Purchasing Agent Keasha L. Brown did not formally notify the organization until yesterday afternoon.

A review of emails by The Brew found that Brown’s office had sent an earlier notification, but it was never delivered because the Tree Trust’s email address had been spelled incorrectly.*

*The notification letter was sent by Brown’s office to baltioretreetrust.org.

FULL REPORT: City nonprofit says it was unfairly disqualified on a tree planting contract.

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