Council talks purchases



May 23, 2017 - 12:00 AM

The city’s purchasing policy often has Iola City Council members weighing supporting local businesses versus giving taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck.
On Monday, the Council discussed revising the purchasing policy, at the behest of City Administrator Sid Fleming.
“We want guidelines to know when you prefer local, so we can align ourselves with that,” Fleming said.
The city traditionally seeks out low bids for big-ticket purchases, but will pick a slightly higher cost if the vendor is local.
Problem is, the purchasing policy allows too much gray area, which precludes out-of-town vendors from submitting bids, Fleming said.
“The more times we do not follow policy, the less likely someone will want to bid,” Fleming said.
The proposed policy will have any purchases over $20,000 brought to the Council — the same as before — but with local preference given if the bid is within 7.5 percent of the low bid.
Council members brought up several items to consider: Should other variables be considered on purchases, say, over $100,000? Are there instances when a local bid may exceed the 7.5 percent threshold, yet still be the best option because of the ability to handle repairs?  And where should product quality remain in the list of considerations.
“That’s a lot of variables,” Councilman Aaron Franklin noted.
“But this gives you a starting point,” councilman Jon Wells added.
Councilwoman Nancy Ford also noted the importance of staff recommendations in the buying process.
“They’ll be the ones using the equipment,” she said. “We need to consider what they need it for, and what they feel is the best job for them.”
The policy will be brought back to the Council for formal approval.

IN RELATED matters, Council members approved several purchases:
— A Ford F-750 dump truck with a 10-foot dump bed for $95,918. Merle Kelly Ford, Chanute, submitted the only three bids. The Council went with the lowest of the three.
— Chip-seal emulsion from Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions of Kansas City, Kan., which compute to an average tanker load cost of $10,674.50, the lower of two bids.
— A Husqvarna concrete saw from United Rentals for $22,479, the lowest bid of three.
— A John Deere 2032R mower/tractor from O’Malley Equipment. O’Malley’s bid was $1,675 higher than the lowest bid, but the Council opted for O’Malley because of a longer warranty and because the John Deere tractor had a thicker mow deck.

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