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By Nickolai Sukharev
TAKOMA PARK — For the first time in over 20 years, the Takoma Park City Council explore the process that regulates the city’s purchasing and procurement practices in an effort that would “give staff more flexibility,” according to Deputy City Manager Jason Damweber.
Currently, the city code defines formal contracts, outlines transaction practices, and sets limits and thresholds on what the city staff is allowed to purchase without the approval of the City Council.
Though the staff could not determine when the code was last amended on this issue, Damweber said it was “since at least before [the year] 2000.”
“Our dollar thresholds [and] triggers for who must be approving certain types of purchases haven’t kept pace with increasing costs,” Damweber said during the Oct. 24 City Council meeting. “Changing the code will allow us to make more timely purchases and … realize some cost savings.”
Damweber explained that the current code prevented the city’s IT staff from taking advantage of reduced-sale opportunities for software purchases.
Proposed changes would update Chapters 7.04, 7.08, and 7.12 of the city code.
In terms of awarding authority, the Deputy City Manager’s proposed amendments include increased dollar amounts of purchases that must be approved by the Council, from $5,000 for professional services and $10,000 for other single purchases of goods or services up to $50,000. They will also require that the City Manager sign contracts for all purchases greater than $30,000.
The changes would also create an annual report to the City Council regarding all purchases between $30,000 and $50,000 and all emergency purchases between $10,000 and $30,000 – along with immediate reports regarding all emergency purchases above $30,000.
City Manager Suzanne Ludlow added that previous snowstorms necessitated the city to contract for emergency snow removal not foreseen in the budget.
Proposed changes to procedural requirements would increase the purchase amount requiring competitive sealed bids and proposals from $10,000 to $30,000; increase the purchase amounts requiring staff to obtain at least three proposals or quotes from $0-$10,000 to $10,000-$29,999; and require staff to make reasonable efforts to obtain the lowest cost for purchases below $10,000.
Damweber also recommended the city move to set up detailed regulations for the incorporation of changing technology, scientific understanding and environmental certifications.
Other changes would also allow the city manager to take advantage of limited-sale offers.
The City Council will have a work session on the proposed changes on Wednesday, Nov. 7.