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County explains purchase policy PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 December 2017 13:21

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By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



From time to time, department heads with Seward County come before the commission with requests to buy equipment or supplies.

Many times, those requests are to put those items up for bids from vendors both local and non-local. Depending on the cost of those items and how many vendors are available, as well as the urgency of the purchase, requests for waivers of the county’s purchasing policy may be needed to buy them.

The purchasing policy was passed via the adoption of a resolution by the commission in 2005, and Seward County Clerk Stacia Long said the policy is simply a guideline for all departments to follow when considering larger purchases for the county.

When single source vendors are used to purchase an item, a waiver of the policy, which calls for bids to be put out, primarily through publications such as newspapers for items of certain price areas, is needed, and Long explained some of the cases where the commission can allow for that.

“There are many times where items being purchased can only be made by one vendor or by specific vendors,” she said. “An example would be new voting equipment. State certification is required on all election equipment used in the state of Kansas to ensure compliance with state laws.”

Long said there are currently three vendors that have been certified to date for election equipment.

“Rather than seeking bids through the use of multiple publications, the board of county commissioners may waive the policy and allow bids to be obtained directly from the three vendors,” she said. “This saves time and money.”

Another reason for a waiver request, Long said, would occur if a purchase was made and the purchasing policy, for some reason, was not followed.

“It would go before the board for final approval or denial,” she said.

Long said the actual cost of publicizing a bid varies depending on the size of the publication.

“Any purchase in excess of $10,000 requires a formal bid process, i.e. publication in the official newspaper of the county for a solicitation of bids,” she said. “Bids are then submitted to the county administrator to forward to the board for review and final approval of purchase.”

The purchasing policy often comes into question when dealing with the issue of taking a bid from a local vendor rather than a non-local vendor who may have put in a lower bid.

Some entities have dealt with that problem simply by requiring the governing board to accept the lowest bid no matter which vendor it comes from. Seward County’s purchasing policy gives favor to local merchants whenever possible.

Long said it has always been important to the county commission to support local vendors whenever possible.

“It is written into the policy that all purchases shall give preference to Seward County merchants when applicable,” she said. “Awards shall be made to the best bidder within Seward County when the amount is not more than 5 percent higher than the best out-of-county bid.”

That portion of the policy came into question at a commission meeting in November when Seward County Fire Chief Andrew Barkley came before the commission to request moving into a lease purchase agreement for a new fire engine.

The fire engine under the approved agreement would cost more than $600,000, well more than the $10,000 minimum required for the purchasing policy, and five local banks were contacted for bids. It was an out-of-town bank, though, Republic First National of Rochester, Ind., which ended up submitting the lowest bid.

The Republic bid came in at just less than $615,000, while local vendor Bank of Beaver City came in at just more than $630,000 and Liberal’s First National Bank put in a bid of just less than $640,000.

As the highest bidder, commissioners instantly took First National’s bid off the board, and with Bank of Beaver City’s bid coming in at about 2.5 percent more than Republic’s, the local vendor was the choice.

One of the payment options, the one chosen by the commission, given by Bank of Beaver City actually dropped that bid to $621,000, now only 1.1 percent higher than Republic’s.

As for any changes being considered to the county’s purchasing policy, Long said she is not aware of any updates being considered by the commission at this time.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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