Township okays changes to procurement bylaw

Guelph-Eramosa council approved several changes to the township’s procurement bylaw designed to allow staff make significant buys in a more timely manner.

Clerk Meaghen Reid presented several changes to council last week proposed by the township’s management team, which consists of the heads of each staffing department. The proposed changes increase the thresholds triggering certain purchasing requirements.

For example, staff can simply purchase any items valued at less than $10,000 but now “low dollar value items” between $10,000 and $14,999 require three verbal, fax or email quotes (the old standard was $5,000 to $9,999).

Also, items valued between $15,000 and $49,999 will require at least three informal quotes, whereas the old requirement was $10,000 to $24,999. And goods or services valued between $50,000 and $250,000 require formal tenders (the old requirement was from $25,000 to $74,999).

The main change is that only items valued at more than $250,000 require staff to report back to council for final approval before purchasing, whereas before the reporting requirement kicked in for anything over $75,000.

Reid explained that requiring reports to council for items valued at $75,000 or more “can greatly impact efficiency and service delivery for the township, since many of these expenditures relate to timely road work or are needed during the summer months when council meets less frequently.”

However, councillor Corey Woods said he is not that comfortable with raising the requirement to $250,000. He was unsure if he wanted purchases that large proceeding without council first seeing and approving them.

Councillor John Scott countered that the purchases will already be included in the budget, so the money is already there and approved for that particular use.

Parks and recreation director Robin Milne said it can often be difficult to get a quorum of council together in the summer. He noted there were three special council meetings last summer just to approve tenders.

The $250,000 threshold usually comes into play when the municipality is purchasing asphalt or maintenance gravel, Milne explained. He said the increasing the threshold speeds up the process because staff doesn’t have to wait two weeks – or more – until the next council meeting to get final approval.

Woods then wondered how council decides if the $250,000 figure is correct. Councillor Doug Breen said he understands the concern and wondered if councillors could receive a report after the fact for larger purchases.

Mayor Chris White agreed a “real time” update to councillors would be helpful, and he said the information should also be included in the next council agenda package so the public is also informed.

“At the end of the day, this stuff has already been pre-approved,” White said.

When it came time to vote, council was unanimous in its approval of the new procurement rules, with an amendment stating council should receive a summary report for purchased goods and services valued between $50,000 and $250,000.