Ordinance impacting city contract bids passes first reading

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 11:01 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - An ordinance dealing with city contract bids passed its first reading at Tuesday night’s Parkersburg City Council meeting.

WTAP spoke to city council members both for and against the measure.

It’s an ordinance that would change how the Parkersburg city government deals with contracts at different price points.

According to city council member Wendy Tuck, right now, if the project costs over $15,000, the city must post legal ads in the newspaper seeking out bidders. However, if the cost is below $15,000, the city can choose from a group of vetted vendors without putting the project out to bid in the newspaper. According to Mayor Tom Joyce, how that works is the city obtains three quotes and goes with the lowest one.

Contracts could cover projects such as repairs, getting supplies, demolitions, etcetera.

This ordinance would raise the threshold from $15,000 to $25,000.

City council woman Sharon Kuhl is a leader behind the ordinance. For her, it’s all about efficiency.

“It just eliminates having to put it out to bid and basically waiting an extra two months for the product,” she said.

The city has struggled with inflation and product availability, according to Kuhl. She said that, with rising costs of inflation, a longer wait time could mean a more expensive price.

“Everyone knows what product supply - how difficult it is to get product supply right now. And the city is not immune to that…on different things that they need,” she said.

Kuhl said that it takes a month to award a bid if they put it out in the paper.

“..., and then you have to order, you know, then you have to order it. And then - who knows how long with the product chain - how long that’s going to take,” she said.

Wendy Tuck, on the other hand, is against the measure. She says it’s a transparency issue.

“Basically what this ordinance does is to say now any project over $25,000 requires public notice and anything under $25,000 does not,” she said.

Tuck said putting projects out to bid in the paper gives the city a wider range of deals to choose from, giving them a better chance at getting the best deal.

“..., when people are working very very hard for every dollar they have, the city has to take into account using taxpayer dollars in the best possible way…you know, to get the best product for the least amount of money,” she said.

Tuck added that putting projects to bid in the paper gives different local companies an equal opportunity to apply.

She says she isn’t against the current $15,000 threshold because some projects are so small that public notice isn’t necessary.

Kuhl says transparency isn’t an issue because people would still be able to look up how much things cost on the city website.

There is one more reading of the ordinance, which will determine whether or not the measure will go into effect. That reading will take place at the December 22nd city council meeting at 7:30pm.

Wendy Tuck was the only city council member at the meeting who voted against the ordinance. However, city councilman J.R. Carpenter, who was not in attendance, tells us he is also against the measure. For him, it’s also about transparency.