Iola City Council members will take a closer look at the city’s purchasing policy to determine if a provision should be added to decide when they can do business with local businesses, even if it means being more expensive than with other companies.
At issue Monday was the purchase of a Ford SUV Interceptor for the Iola Police Department.
The Council voted, 4-3, to purchase the SUV from Twin Motors Ford in Iola at a price of $27,166, which was about 6 percent ($1,600) more expensive than the low bid from Beckman Motors of Garnett. Council members Aaron Franklin, Beverly Franklin, Austin Sigg and Don Becker, voted to approve the Twin Motors bid. Nancy Ford, Sandy Zornes and Jon Wells were opposed. Councilman Bob Shaughnessy was absent.
Council members have traditionally favored Twin’s bids in the past, even if they were more expensive than from other dealers.
“Twin Motors sells vehicles in Allen County, and it pays taxes here,” Beverly Franklin said.
Even so, “it might be a good practice to have a set percent” threshold to determine when local vendors can be used, Aaron Franklin said. “We do have a budget to manage.”
Sigg agreed, noting a $1,600 difference “doesn’t seem like much on a $29 million budget, but Chief (Warner) has been trying to get two cars for five years now.”
Police Chief Jared Warner noted that prior to the purchasing policy’s inception in 2012, the old policy was to favor local vendors if the price was within 10 percent of the low bid.
Council members directed City Administrator Sid Fleming to investigate the matter further.
Following the vote, Wells wondered if the 4-3 margin was enough to overturn the purchasing policy, suggesting that since it was part of an ordinance, a two-thirds majority was necessary.
Warner agreed to hold off on ordering the vehicle until City Clerk Roxanne Hutton could confirm whether the vote was enough for the Twin Motors bid.
COUNCIL members also:
— Accepted the resignation of Scott Stewart as Municipal Court clerk. Assistant court clerk Deborah Sager was promoted to replace Stewart.
— Approved a number of requests relating to the upcoming Farm-City Days celebration Oct. 6-9, including closing streets around the square during various parts of the celebration; placing bleachers and trash receptacles; and setting up electric service for participants. In a related matter, the Council also approved a request from the Allen County Historical Society to host an air soft shooting gallery during the celebration as part of ACHS fundraiser.
— Appointed Fleming as the city’s voting delegate at the League of Kansas Municipalities annual meeting Oct. 8-10 in Overland Park.
— Approved a request from Thrive Allen County to allow a group of students from the University of Kansas to camp out in the Recreation Community Building at Riverside Park Oct. 8-11 while the students are in town to assist with a number of volunteer community activities, many of which will be in LaHarpe.
— Finalized a contract with the Kansas Department of Transportation to help pay for sidewalk improvements around the three elementary schools and Iola Middle School. The city was approved earlier this year to receive $144,000 in federal funds as part of its “Safe Routes to Schools” effort. The city will pay about $36,000, or 20 percent, of the $180,000 project.