Montrose council alters purchase policy

Change streamlines village purchases

The checks and balances are in place and we have to trust our staff, says Coun. Cindy Cook.

The seasoned Montrose councillor was speaking about a noteworthy increase in purchasing authority requested by the village’s administration.

“We all take turns signing the cheques,” Cook added. “So you are all going to see any money that goes out.”

The policy amendment was passed after Bryan Teasdale, chief administrative officer (CAO), clarified that upping staff’s purchasing range is practical, in line with current costs, and can be a money-saver.

“These numbers haven’t been changed for quite some time now,” said Teasdale. “We’ve talked with our auditors about this and they’ve said the (new) numbers are standard, even a little low,” he added.

“I know that we try to get the best value for the number, so this just allows staff to do things a little more effectively,” maintained Teasdale. “We don’t like spending money, but if we can do things faster, it can actually save us money.”

Smaller ticket projects or goods have been delayed because village staff often has a challenge finding local interest.

“To get three quotes for something under $5,000 – there’s a lot of people that won’t even respond to our phone calls for projects less than $10,000,” he said. “They are not making money on it or busy doing something else, this just helps us streamline things and make (the process) a little bit faster.”

The policy amendment was passed unanimously, allowing the administrator (CAO) to purchase goods and services under $10,000 without a formal bidding project. The previous amount was $5,000.

Additionally, the new policy calls for three bids on purchases in the $10,000 to $25,000 range, instead of $5,000 to $10,000; authority to procure goods and services under $25,000 within the annual budget without prior council approval; and all purchases exceeding $25,000 (up from $10,000) can be submitted to a formal purchasing process prior to council approval.

“The highest amount in the policy is $25,000,” Cook reiterated. “And we won’t be building anything new for under $25,000, I can guarantee that.”

Coun. Rory Steep voted down an increase during a 2014 purchase policy review. He reconsidered that decision following discussion during Monday night council, and opted for the go ahead.

“I previously had an issue because (his workplace) still looks for three quotes under $5,000,” explained Steep. “But I see what Bryan is saying and in my position I know the village doesn’t have a lot of money and tries to get the best prices available,” he added. “And I think Cindy is right, we do have to trust the people we have working for us to follow that same line, so I have a hard time arguing against these changes (this year).”

Warfield is another municipality ready to look at its purchasing policy.

Currently, all village projects are approved by council, says Jackie Patridge, the village’s chief financial officer/corporate officer, noting a review is planned for the new year.

Projects between $15,000 and $50, 000 are put out to invitational tender, meaning at least three local qualified businesses are invited to bid. Those over $50,000 go to public tender.

Items under $15,000 are approved by council and administered by staff, and do not have to go through a bidding process, Patridge added.

The City of Trail’s purchasing policy, approved in 2011, states to encourage competition growth in local economy, quotations can be solicited by phone (search for competitive process) on individual items up to $5,000.

“These are often day-to-day purchases required to support smooth operation of the city,” explains Bryan Maloney, Trail’s purchasing and mechanical superintendent. “These purchases are normally made through local vendors when and where possible and are covered by annually issued standing purchase orders.”

A minimum of three written quotations are required on purchases between $5,000 and $10,000; and advertising in the newspaper and on the city’s website is required for service contracts and equipment purchases exceeding $10,000.

“Bids keep vendors involved in the process,” Maloney added. “And help to ensure a healthy competition which enables all involved an equal opportunity.”

Up to $25,000 can be approved by the CAO alone, over $25,000 must go to council.

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