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Councillor objects to amended purchasing policy

Penticton city council approved a recommendation to amend the city's purchasing policy, with one councillor voicing objections.
May 08, 2015 - 4:32 PM

PENTICTON - One city councillor isn’t happy about amendments made to Penticton’s purchasing policy approved earlier this week.

Penticton city staff approached council with a recommendation to approve an amended purchasing policy for the city. The policy describes the method by which quotes are obtained for for different values of purchases, in addition to assigning spending authority for purchase approval.

The amended policy would see all city staff allowed to make purchases up to $1,500 with a supervisor’s approval, up $500 from the current value of $1,000.

Managers' spending limits would double, from $25,000 to $50,000, as would directors, from $50,000 to $100,000. The chief administrative officer spending limit would rise from $75,000 to over $100,000 before requiring approval of council.

Under the amended policy, consulting services contracts up to $75,000 would not require a bid or tendering process. Council was told time is of essence when securing a consultant and the competitive process may take too long. Consultants who had previously worked for the city generally required less start up time, which reduced city staff time on the project.

Councillor Helena Konanz voiced singular opposition to the amendments, questioning the need for the changes. She suggested tabling the motion until a new chief administrative officer had been hired and provide some scrutiny to the issue, but no one else on council agreed.

“I haven’t heard of any purchasing problems, so why are we amending now was my issue,” Konanz explained.

“I think this matter could wait until we’ve hired a new CAO. Eliminating the bid process for consultants below $75,000 — these are costs we should be overseeing. Staff motives are fine, but the decision could have been delayed without a problem.”

Konanz also noted the full gallery present at the May 4 council meeting, where many were present to protest a $1 mailing charge being attached to their electrical bills.

“Look how much time we spent concerned about a $1 charge, then we’re passing items worth tens of thousands of dollars and those funds don’t get a second look,” she said.

City of Penticton communications officer Simone Blais said in an email the policy had not been updated since 2004 and staff wished to include elements which look to sustainable purchasing and supporting locally made and environmentally responsible projects.

Blais said the expenditure limits were already approved by council by virtue of being within the budget. She said returning to council for additional approval would be redundant. If an item was not within the budget, policy stated the expenditure would then have to go back to council.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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