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Wellesley adopts new purchasing bylaw

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Looking to streamline its purchasing policy, Wellesley this week approved a new bylaw that will cut down the number of small-budget items that are brought to council for approval.

Coun. Jim Olender called for the review earlier this month, questioning why small items that are included in the budget must be approved again by council. He raised the topic again at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Under the original purchasing bylaw, any item in excess of $12,000 was to have been tendered out through public advertisements for bids. For items between $6,000 and $12,000, staff was required to get three written quotes. Those numbers have since been increased, and public bids will now only be required for purchases of more than $50,000. Three written quotes will now be required only for purchases of more than $10,000.

The way in which the system will work from this point forward will go something like this: the budget will be reviewed and passed by council; department heads will discuss major purchases with the director of finance; after the department head authorizes each applicable invoice, that expenditure will be cleared by the director of finance and a list of these major purchases will be posted on the council’s agenda for review.

Coun. Herb Neher said he would still want staff to bring purchases forward to council for information, even if a motion isn’t required.

In Woolwich Township, staff is required to obtain two written quotes for purchases between $5,000 and $10,000, and three written quotes for purchases under $50,000. Sealed tenders and council approval are required for purchases over $50,000.

The purchasing bylaw was last revised in 2005; Olender said the new policy will stay in place for at least the next five years.

“We will look at the policy as it goes along to see how it works, but I think it will meet our needs because staff had their input and this is what they say will work for them.”

Township staff has been, and will be implementing checks and double checks to protect the township from any misuse of funds.

“Now it’s a bit more manageable,” Olender said in an interview. “Staff won’t be as cumbered by having to bring all these little decisions to council when it’s not necessary.”

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