Polk County to amend purchasing policy

Published 4:22 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

Manager spending limit proposed to be increased to $50,000

COLUMBUS-The Polk County Board of Commissioners gave consensus this week for staff to propose amendments to the county’s purchasing policy, which was adopted in 2002.

Commissioners met Monday, Aug. 7 and heard from county manager Marche Pittman, who said there are conflicting amounts in the current policy.

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Pittman also said staff wants to recommend other changes to the processes which are currently in place.

“The way things are drafted in this policy is not how we do things,” Pittman said.

County finance director Sandra Hughes said the policy was first created under former county manager Michael Talbert and a lot of things have changed since then.

Pittman said the current policy is a little confusing because the manager is allowed to spend $10,000 but up to $30,000 on purchasing contracts without commissioner approval. The manager only spends or signs contracts for items that are budgeted and have commissioner approval in the budget.

Commissioner Myron Yoder asked what is a common amount staff makes on purchases.

County attorney Jana Berg said $50,000 and Pittman said he’d be comfortable with anywhere between $30,000-$50,000.

Berg said commissioners have already budgeted the items and the policy just gives the manager authority to sign the purchase contracts.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said he’s comfortable with $50,000 since the items are already budgeted. He suggested Pittman include the purchases in his manager’s reports to commissioners.

Berg said the county also has a strict bidding process. The manager will still have to follow the process he has in the past of seeking out bidders. Berg said if the manager doesn’t select the low bidder, he will have to justify his reasons in writing.

Commissioners gave staff, including Pittman, Berg, Hughes and county clerk Ange High to propose changes to the policy and bring them back for the board’s consideration.

The county’s purchasing policy includes guidelines for duties and responsibilities of the purchasing agent, finance director and department heads, contracts requiring formal bids, advertising, opening and awarding bids, emergency purchase orders and monetary expenditure limits, among other topics.