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County may change rules regarding bid process
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Warren County is considering a measure to double its competitive bid limit requirement.
The limit is a financial threshold that requires a project, or purchase, to undergo a competitive bidding process if the estimated cost exceeds a specific amount. By law, this process is required for every government agency in an effort to prevent wasteful spending and create a transparent environment that is open and fair.
Currently, the county’s competitive bid limit is $5,000 for the Warren County Board of Education and most of its departments. Under consideration is a measure to increase the limit to $10,000.
“Currently, the limit is at $10,000 for the Highway Department,” said Finance Department director Linda Hillis. “We’ve had some interest from the other departments to raise that for them. This will get everyone on the same bid limit. All the county departments, the school departments, and the Highway Department will all be at $10,000.”
Hillis said the increase will save the county money in that each competitive bidding process costs approximately $300 to advertise.
The county Financial Management Committee met Thursday evening and voted 5-1 in favor of increasing the financial threshold. County Executive Herschel Wells, Commissioners Terry Bell, Linda Hillis and David Rhea, and Road Superintendent Levie Glenn voted in favor of it, while Commissioner Tommy Savage voted against it.
Savage says the increase will allow department directors to arbitrarily pick a contractor if the project is under $10,000, or a business if the purchase is under $10,000, and could open the door to wasteful spending.
“I think bids should be advertised to keep the playing field level,” said Savage. “I’ve always been in a business where you have to watch people like a hawk. I guess that just makes me very cautious, especially when spending the people’s money.”
Budget and Finance Committee members Terry Bell, Carl E. Bouldin, Ken Martin and Diane Starkey met later that same evening and unanimously approved the increase.
The measure will be sent to the full Warren County Commission for its consideration Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m.