A Marshall funeral home owner spoke before the Harrison county commissioners court on Wednesday after having his bid for {span}the county’s removal and transport of human remains, as well as for direct cremation for the county’s indigent, rejected in favor of a higher bid from the county’s current contracted funeral home company, Meadowbrook Funeral Home in Marshall.

Though the commissioners could not respond to Downs Funeral Home owner Keith Downs during his comments to them on Wednesday, Downs said he wanted to voice his concerns over the fairness of the bidding and selection process.

“The county used to have funeral homes on rotation for transport and removal and the cremation of the indigent,” Downs said. “In 2013, Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor decided to change it to a contract service and Meadowbrook Funeral Home was the only bidder because I didn’t know about it until it was too late.”

Downs said he planned to wait for the contract to expire and get in on the next round of bidding.

“That four year contract in 2013 somehow turned into six years, with the contract with Meadowbrook being automatically renewed each year for the past two years,” he said.

When bidding opened up again this fall, Downs said he spent several hundred dollars and man hours preparing a bid, which would turn out to the be lowest bid offered of the two.

“My bid was lower than Meadowbrook’s by about $30 per transport and removal and by about $25 per indigent person’s cremation,” Downs said. “With about two transports per week, I could have saved the county about $6,000 per year on another four year contract.”

The commissioners voted earlier this month in a split 3-2 vote to go with the higher bidder, Meadowbrook Funeral Home, with Harrison County Judge Chad Sims and Commissioner Phillip Mauldin voting against the measure.

Downs said the decision of the majority of commissioners is baffling.

“I have eight vehicles capable of carrying human remains,” Downs said. “Meadowbrook has three vehicles. I have a funeral coach instead of a van — for some people, it matters what their loved ones are riding in and we also send a licensed funeral director on every call.”

Downs said he doesn’t believe the bidding process was transparent or fair.

“What’s done is done,” he said. “I just waited six years to bid on this. I thought I put in better service for less money but I just didn’t get much support. I just wanted to come ask the commissioners today, what I could have done to be considered but they said they couldn’t answer my questions during the meeting. I just felt it wasn’t fair. I could have saved the county a lot of money.”