When you're awarding more than $1.2 million in contracts and several people want large chunks of the pie, you're not going to please everyone.
Just ask Bruce Burdick, director of the Utah County Substance Abuse and Mental Competency Department. Burdick made final recommendations to the County Commission on Monday for the awarding of treatment and substance-abuse prevention contracts - contracts that have created controversy for Burdick and his office. The commission is expected to give final approval to the contracts Wednesday.This is the first year the county has opened the contracts for bids. In the past the Substance Abuse Department decided who received the contracts. Now the state requires the county to go through a bidding process.
Some of the providers who have had contracts in the past but will not this year are upset. And some who received services from those providers also are upset.
DUI Educational Associates is one of the providers that will lose its contract, based on Burdick's recommendation to the commission. And the company's director, Roger Coplen, says Burdick misled him in the bidding process and made promises that have not been fulfilled.
Kim Groscost, a counselor at Payson High School, told the commission Monday that the county department made a mistake by not renewing Coplen's contract and that many Payson High School students are suffering. She said Coplen is being penalized because he complained about the bidding process.
"Nobody is penalizing Roger," Commissioner Malcolm Beck responded. "It's just the result of the process we went through, and that's how it came out."
Burdick told the commissioners that the bids were scored on a point system and each was reviewed by an independent panel. The contracts were awarded according to the panel's recommendations.
However, Groscost said Payson High School has not received any funding for drug education since school began two months ago. She said many students with alcohol and drug problems depended on Coplen's program and now have no county program to depend on.
Burdick said service has not been provided because contracts have not been signed. The new bidding process has delayed the contracts.
"We need to have something schools can count on and not have to watch these people go through funding wars," Groscost said.
Groscost said Wasatch Mental Health, the new drug education and treatment provider, has not provided adequate service in the past and is not "doing something right over there."
Don Muller, Wasatch Mental Health director, said Nebo, Alpine and Provo school districts will each receive a half-time person to direct drug education efforts. He said it will be a coordinated effort between the center and the school districts.
"Any children currently receiving counseling should not be dropped from the program," Muller said.
Burdick said that if individual districts want to do more there will be about $100,000 available soon from the Drug Free School program to supplement any additional district effort.
The commissioners said the process should be more timely in the future and the schools' needs will be met.