|Legal Opinion: |
Text of Document: February 25, 1993
Recently you contacted Mike Malone about some purchases that the joint city/county E-911 board wanted to make. It seems that you presently have a consulting firm under contract which offered to furnish some needed equipment. After that, another firm also offered to furnish this equipment. You wanted to know whether the board could accept one of these offers or if it must advertise and accept bids pursuant to the County Purchasing Law of 1983. In short the board must advertise and accept bids.
Tennessee Code Annotated section 7-86-121 (b) governs the disbursement of revenues received by E-911 boards and reads:
All revenues including any debt obligation issued for the purpose of a lease/lease purchase must be expended according to the provisions of the "County Purchasing Law of 1983," compiled in title 5, chapter 14, part 2. For purposes of applying title 5, chapter 14, part 2, the district board of directors is deemed to be the governing body.
Admittedly this is somewhat confusing since it could be inferred that the only revenues under the County Purchasing Law are those debt obligations to be issued for the purpose of lease/lease purchase agreements. My interpretation of the statute is that all revenues the board collects are under the Law.
In Day v. North American Rayon Corp., 140 F.Supp. 490 (D.C. Tenn. 1956), it was pointed out that unclear words in a statute should be given such interpretation as will express the legislature's intent. Here we have an unclear phrase, mainly caused by the lack of commas. When the phrase "including any debt obligation issued for the purpose of a lease/lease purchase" is excluded we are left with; "All revenues ... must be expended according to the provisions of the 'County Purchasing Law of 1983'." As Day further stated, "generally, no intent may be imputed to the legislature in enactment of a statute other that such as is supported by the face to the statute within itself." Applying this, I believe it is clear that the legislature with the phrase "all revenues" clearly intended that all funds received by an E-911 board be expended according to the County Purchasing Law of 1983.
That law, found at T.C.A. 5-14-201 et seq., specifies that all purchases over $5000.00 require advertisement and competitive bidding unless the vendor is the sole source of supply or there is an emergency situation. It is my understanding that this purchase is well over $5000.00. Since you have already received two offers, it is clear that the vendors in question are not sole suppliers. I also have received no information that this is an emergency situation. In light of these facts, I must then advise that the County Purchasing Law be applied and bids let out on this equipment.
Please feel free to contact me if I may be of any further help on this matter.
Very truly yours,
MUNICIPAL TECHNICAL ADVISORY SERVICE