New Westminster is proposing to make it easier for city staff to buy goods and services.

New Westminster Coun. Lorrie Williams -
New Westminster Coun. Lorrie Williams
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New Westminster is proposing to make it easier for city staff to buy goods and services.

City purchasing manager Roy Moulder proposed the changes to council on Monday. Currently purchases between $10,000 and $100,000 have to go through a similar process for obtaining quotes as for those above $100,000.

A staff report suggests any buys between $15,000 and $75,000 require obtaining three quotes without having to post it to the city’s website.

The change means departments can collect bids without having the purchasing division prepare a lengthy tendering document for posting, said the report.

“What we’re trying to do is provide some level of flexibility and expediency in that level of procurement,” Moulder told council. “In the time I’ve been here, the departments would like a little bit more autonomy in that regard.”

Expenditures under $15,000 would be at departmental discretion while those over $75,000 would be subject to the full request for proposal (RFP) treatment.

Another proposed change would give department directors the authority to commit city funds up to $75,000.

Guidelines for allowing purchasing from one source involving more than $15,000 have also been developed to include circumstances such as if there’s only one qualified vendor or there’s an emergency.

However, single sourcing between $50,000 and $150,000 must still get approval from city administrator Lisa Spitale, and any over $150,000 must be approved by council.

In addition, any project, or purchase of goods or services that exceeds its total budget by either $100,000 or 10 per cent has to go before council to be approved.

Less than $100,000, the variance can be approved by the purchasing manager or the project manager.

Currently the city does not provide local preference in its purchasing process, but the proposed policy calls for it to be given only when all other considerations are equal.

Coun. Lorrie Williams suggested preference could be given if the local bid was within 10 per cent of the lowest one.

However, Moulder said the city is reluctant to do that because it doesn’t necessarily mean the city is going to get the best value.

“It may simply mean that businesses in the area know they have a 10 per cent buffer to play with.”

He also pointed out if New West was the first to apply such a policy larger neighbours may adopt it too, and that would hurt local businesses rather than provide more opportunities.

The report will be discussed by council at its next meeting, July 8, when another report on changes to the delegation of authority will be on the agenda.


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