BERLIN – The Berlin Ethics Commission ruled that a town councilman could bid on municipal projects as long as certain conditions were met.
At the request of Berlin Councilman Thom Gulyas, the town’s ethics commission met to consider whether or not he could bid on the town’s printing projects. The commission agreed that he could as long he had no access to project bids or contact with the staff handling them.
“This is for your protection,” said Anita Todd, chair of the commission.
Gulyas, the owner of Ace Printing & Mailing in Berlin, was elected to the town council in 2014. He told the ethics commission, which meets as needed, that he had handled printing jobs for the town in the past and was interested in continuing to do so. He said he was not aware of any upcoming projects but simply wanted to know whether, with his position on the council, he would be able to bid on town projects in the future.
“I think we can be extremely competitive,” Gulyas said. “All I’m looking for is the option to be able to put in to bid. If we’re successful, great and if we’re not we move on to the next one.”
Though commission member Bill Burke was quick to say he had no problem with the request, town attorney David Gaskill reminded the commission of the town code. He said it wasn’t as simple as telling Gulyas he could bid but rather a matter of adhering to the town’s ordinance on the subject.
“It says that except as permitted by regulation of the commission when the interest is disclosed, which it is, an official, of which Thom is, may not be employed by or have a financial interest in any entity that is negotiating or has entered a contract with the commission with which the individual is affiliated,” Gaskill said. “So it is generally prohibited unless this commission says it’s fine and under what if any conditions you want to put on that.”
After a brief closed session, the commission announced Gulyas could bid on town projects as long as he had no access to any of the bids submitted and no contact with town staff regarding the bids.
“You can talk to them about other things but not about the submitted bids,” Todd said.
Gulyas said he understood and didn’t want to create any cause for concern.
“The last thing I want to do is embarrass the mayor and council or the town,” he said.