Dave Wallace: In our best interest
February 1, 2018
After attending the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners' meeting on Tuesday, I find myself somewhat troubled with what I observed. Prior to expressing my concerns, I first must take you back several weeks, when an issue first surfaced.
I read the January 10 article in the Craig Press that covered the BOCC meeting. The county assessor had requested an override of the competitive bidding process, which is outlined in the Moffat County Purchasing Policies and Procedures. The reasoning was, "urgency and the need to get a specific individual on board as soon as possible." The request was approved.
Being somewhat troubled with this, I attended the BOCC meeting the following week and presented my concerns: that I felt the override was in violation and did not comply with Moffat County's General Provisions. I am not going to list the entire section, but below are several line items I felt were in conflict with the override decision. An entire list is available online and from the Moffat County Clerk's Office.
• To ensure the efficient use of taxpayers' dollars through market competition. (competitive bidding process)
• Except where otherwise specifically stated herein, this manual shall apply to every expenditure of public funds.
• Emergency purchases shall not be substituted for a lack of proper planning by the ordering department.
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• Moffat County shall submit goods and services to bid in accordance with applicable statues.
There are several items that are not amenable to bid, one being purchases less than $5,000 which have been determined not to be cost effective, which leads me to today's concerns.
The Tuesday, Jan. 30 BOCC meeting began with the board bringing a proposal to the table for approval. The proposal was to amend the bid requirement level for professional services, changing the amount from $5,000 to $25,000. The amendment passed uncontested.
This is an amendment of convenience, it is much easier to change the law than it is to abide by it. This amendment is not in the best interest of the taxpayers' dollars. What it does is further reduce the transparency and accountability of our county officials, allowing those officials to spend public funds while sidestepping the competitive bidding process. Amending the county by-laws to allow greater flexibility in government spending is not in the best interest of the taxpayer.
Now, the second proposal comes to the table: to enter a contractual agreement with the consulting firm of George K. Baum & Company — and yes, you guessed it, for a value of $25,000. What a coincidence. It also passed uncontested.
The sole purpose of this consulting firm will be to manipulate the opinion of the community's voter base. This group will gather information and apply strategies to leverage a "yes" vote on a ballot measure requesting a tax increase later this year.
I find it very troubling when the BOCC has adequate funds to hire a consulting firm to do the job it should be doing itself, while the county clerks request for funds to continue a seven-year project that is very beneficial to the future development of Moffat County was met with a hail of gunfire.
The county clerk has been the driving force behind this huge task taken on by the clerk's office to digitize the historical land and mineral rights records of Moffat County dating back to 1911, never losing sight of the day of completion. This data-based program generates a profit with a net gain since inception of $84,000.
Even though this project is on the home stretch, with the finish line in sight, the request for funds were originally rejected. Thanks to the county clerk's perseverance, the BOCC pulled a second vote and approved funding for the requested recourses to assist in the project. The remainder of the budget items slid through unscathed. I find it odd that three commissioners with what should be diversified opinions are typically all in favor of, or all opposed.
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