New Committee To Develop Formal Purchasing Policy for the Town

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A newly formed committee will develop a formal purchasing policy to help guide the town’s process of awarding bids to contractors, New Canaan’s highest elected official said last week.

The Audit Committee identified the need for such a written policy, and it will be developed soon by the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.

“Right we have a policy out of [the] Finance [Department] which is not very clear to me,” Moynihan said during a regular Board of Selectmen meeting, held Dec. 17 at Town Hall. 

“This committee is going to recommend purchasing policy—a written purchasing policy that is more clear—but also a committee like this can review with [Public Works Director] Tiger [Mann] and [Buildings Superintendent] Bill [Oestmann] the lay of land we have with contractors and how realistic it is to put things to bid when we don’t want to get the lowest bigger out of Bridgeport with unreliable work and that kind of thing.”

The committee will put together a purchasing policy that the selectmen can review in February or March, Moynihan said.

The matter arose as the selectmen discussed whether to approve an approximately $13,000 contract with a with a Shelton-based heating and air conditioning company to install A/C units at Lapham Community Center.

Oestmann in presenting the contract said M.A. Garamella Co. Inc. was the lower of two bidders on the project.

Selectman Kit Devereaux, participating in the meeting by phone, asked for clarification on whether the town had gone out for more than two bids.

Oestmann answered that only two companies responded to an RFP that included maintenance work.

“I’m just concerned bc don’t we actually have a policy to get more than three bids when they are over a certain amount?” Devereaux said.

Oestmann said yes but that he “can’t get people to come.”

Devereaux said, “All you need to do is make the effort, give them the chance.”

Oestmann said he has been trying.

Moynihan said, “There is a good bit of sense that we have a number of contractors that do good work for New Canaan and we would like to go back to contractors that are reliable.”

Devereaux said she agreed that some contractors are better than others. 

“But just as a policy I think it’s a good idea to solicit the quotes even if you do not go with the lowest,” he said.

Moynihan said, “Well, I might also suggest that perhaps on the day before selectmen meetings, on Monday, you could talk to Tiger and talk to Bill. We post these on Friday and any questions you have about bidding you can spend the time on Mondays to do rather than during our sessions on Tuesday.”

It wasn’t clear whether Devereaux heard Moynihan through the speakerphone system.
Ultimately, the Board approved the contract 3-0, with Moynihan, Devereaux and Selectman Nick Williams voting.

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