Wentzville Adopts Streamlined Procurement Policy; Preference for Local Bidders Up for Discussion

The Wentzville Board of Aldermen adopted a streamlined procurement (purchasing) policy at a meeting earlier this month–minus two major proposed changes.

Procurement Director Kim Butts outlined the new policy for the board. She commented that the city will soon be looking at bids for the construction of a new city hall. “Bids are getting bigger and more complicated,” she said.

Among the changes made to the procurement policy were:

  • Removing board approval for any vehicle trade-in or sale.
  • Adding an emergency procurement section.
  • Moving vendor requirements to a separate manual.
  • Revising the “no bid” level from $1,999 to $2,999, and the formal bid level from $5,000 to $15,000.

In a memo to the board outlining the changes, Butts said that raising the formal bid level to $15,000 was “the most significant change in improving business processes and efficiency.”

However, the board asked that two key changes not be approved: the threshold for a bid that must go to the board for approval, and a section that established preference for local bidders. Those items will remain unchanged, with the board seeking further discussion.

The new policy recommended changing the City Administrator’s approval level from $25,000 to $50,000 in order to reduce the time required to prepare items for board approval and decreasing delays in purchasing.

The streamlined policy also suggested revising a local award preference section of the policy that set weighted evaluation criteria favoring local businesses, even if they weren’t the low bidders.

The proposed change read as follows:

“For supplies and equipment for bids exceeding $50,000.00, in which a local proposer mets all specifications, and is within 3% of the lowest, responsive, responsible proposer, and is willing to match the same price, terms and conditions, the award will go to the local proposer unless otherwise provided or required by law. A local proposer is defined as having a City Business License.”

Alderman Chris Gard said he was hesitant to make changes in the local preference section. “We labored over ‘local,'” he said. “I would be very cautious to do away with what we spent months trying to put together for local business owners.”

City Administrator Robert Bartolotta said that the percentage could be raised higher than 3 percent (for a local bidder to be above the lowest bid), but that the local bidder would still have to match the low bid.

Butts said that the current system discouraged bidders from outside the city. “We were pressing vendors. They said ‘we’ll never bid Wentzville.’ They can’t win from even one mile away. It’s not a good system.”

Bartolotta said that he would bring some other local-preference models to the board for discussion at a future date.