City staff get greater financial leeway on some specialized service contracts

Wilsonville city staff will have greater leeway in the future when it comes to awarding contracts for specialized services such as mapping, engineering, surveying and transportation planning.

Under an amendment to city code approved unanimously Feb. 3 by the Wilsonville City Council, the community development director now has the authority to award contracts worth up to $50,000, with contracts worth up to $100,000 allowed with city manager approval, all without the usual competitive bidding processes that staff say have hampered the pace of projects in the past.

“There are no other major changes to our procurement policies,” said Capital Projects Manager Steve Mende. “There are no changes to how we award contracts for construction, there are no changes to requiring council approval for projects over $100,000. In essence, what it does is make us more efficient by using consultants that we have worked with, who we know are quality consultants.”

The amendment brings city code in line with state law. City council approval is still required for contracts of this type exceeding $100,000 and city code still requires competitive bidding for other types of public improvement and personal service contracts less than $100,000.

The amendment covers the personal services categories of “architectural, engineering, photogrammetric mapping, transportation planning, land surveying services and related services.” Previously, staff were required to adhere to an intermediate award process requiring three competitive quotes on contracts more than $5,000 and less than $100,000.

Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar said the city also plans to maintain a record of all contracts signed under the new procedures.

“It can be used to make sure we’re not in a pattern of going to the same consultants time and time and time again,” she said.

One example of the need for the changes, she said, is the Autumn Park sewer line project on the west side of Wilsonville completed last fall.

“This was interesting,” she said, “Because we performed the design in-house, yet we needed to do surveying for it because we had no one on staff who could do that. We sent out three requests for bids, we got two proposals back. We spent three weeks getting proposals for a $13,000 project that was completed in 10 days.”

It could be what’s needed for the city to land that next big corporate resident, added Councilor Julie Fitzgerald.

“The prospect of losing out just because we needed to spend three to six weeks figuring out how to give someone an answer is a sad deal,” Fitzgerald said.

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