Dave Wallace: Craig spending spurs concern
Attending last week’s Craig City Council meeting, it became obvious the city is taking advantage of the increase in tax dollars soon to be raked into the general fund. The competitive bidding process, even though it is followed by some departments, has once again been ignored by others, not once, but three times, totaling non-bid expenditures of $218,000.
Two pump rebuilds totaling $104,000 were exempted from the bidding process due to lack of repair centers. I did a quick internet search and found seven repair centers that deal with Worthington Pumps with little effort. Professional service contracts listed in the City Municipal Codes do not necessarily require competitive bids, however, unless quotes are received from multiple agencies, there is no way of knowing the price being provided is legitimate. I find it concerning that SGM, who was described in the justification, has been working on the city water compliance issue for several years now and is once again being handed additional tax dollars.
One has to wonder what we have been paying for so far and how long we are going to allow this firm to keep their claws in us.
Oh, I forgot, this is the only engineering firm that has the necessary expertise. Our fresh water system must be unique. The bidding process is necessary in providing transparency and keeping supplier’s prices competitive. Not only does this process provide competitiveness, it promotes honesty. The process reduces the opportunity for inflated pricing and under the table deals, providing it is followed. Listed here are several operating standards from the City Municipal Code.
• Equipment and supplies with a value exceeding $2,500 will be awarded through the competitive bidding procedures.
• City purchasing or contracting shall be performed so as to secure for the city the highest quality in supplies and contractual services at the least expense.
• All purchasing and contracting shall be accomplished in the best interests of the city.
• Full and open competition shall be encouraged in bidding for supplies or construction contracts.
These purchasing standards are in place to assure the community the tax revenue is being managed efficiently and spent responsibly. The City Code includes a purchasing agent who should be controlling the competitive bid process. The purchasing agent provides the separation between the department managers and the suppliers. Any conflicts of interest concerning the purchasing agent should be discouraged through the use of internal audits performed by the financial department. These procedures discourage the opportunity of using favorites or the buddy system when awarding supply and service contracts. I have yet to see the purchasing agent present bid recommendations even once. This step is being conveniently ignored.
The City Municipal Codes are in place to provide standards of operation for our city. These codes discourage subjective handling of taxpayer dollars. Our city council members, including the mayor, are elected and assume office after taking an oath to inforce these codes. I don’t see this happening.
Not one member of the city government voted against the procedure override. I am skeptical of the city government’s authority to disregard the City Purchasing Codes, short of a pending emergency.
Our codes are being trampled on for the purpose of convenience, only. It is always easy to spend somebody else’s money; caution and frugality are thrown to the wind. Wouldn’t it be great if our city management team spent the taxpayers’ money as if it were their own?