Brookfield extends limit for no-bid contracts

Services, purchases over $20,000 now need formal bids

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By BOB UPHUES

By a vote of 5-1, Brookfield village trustees have granted the village manager the power to engage vendors and make emergency purchases up to $20,000 without having to seek competitive bids. The amended ordinance passed at the board's July 10 meeting also makes the village manager the village's official purchasing agent. Previously, that role was given to the village's finance director.

The change was made, according to Village Manager Riccardo Ginex, to streamline purchasing of services and save money on the formal bidding process, which requires paid advertising in local newspapers.

The new amount is double the previous figure of $10,000, which was established by the board in 2003.

Trustee Linda Stevanovich, who was alone in voting against the increased spending limit, said that by making the village manager the purchasing agent, there would now be no oversight to harness spending.

"There are no checks and balances now," Stevanovich said.

But Ginex insisted that checks and balances were still in place to monitor spending by the village manager. The ordinance still includes language requiring the village manager to solicit bids from at least three vendors, whenever possible, before making a purchase.

"We'll still get bids and inform the board so the village gets the best possible services for the price," Ginex said. "I don't see us going away from that."

Village Attorney Richard Ramello added that when Brookfield adopted the village manager form of government, the role of purchasing agent was delegated to the village manager. Somewhere along the line, the role was shifted to the finance director, and the village's own ordinance book was in conflict over the matter.

"This [change] provides consistency in the code," Ramello said.

Trustee Kit Ketchmark said that trustees will still be able to exercise oversight since expenditures would be noted on the list of bills given to trustees twice a month. He added that the village's budget also serves as a guide for spending.

"The board approves the budget and approves checks," Ketchmark said. "This is so we don't have to spend an extra two to three thousand dollars in advertising [for formal bids]."

When Brookfield raised the limit for spending to $10,000 from $7,500 in 2003, there were similar concerns. At that time, however, political roles were reversed.

At the June 23, 2003 meeting of the village board where trustees voted on the matter, Stevanovich stated that "at some point, we need to put faith in our staff," while Ketchmark said that competitive bidding allowed the village to get the best quality work for the least amount of money.

Riverside allows its village manager to spend up to $10,000 before requiring formal bid solicitation. That limit has been in place since that late 1990s.

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