City staff has authority to enter into contracts

City staff now has improved authority to ink public contracts under a new ordinance adopted Feb. 20 by the Wilsonville City Council.

The move amends city code to allow the community development director to award contracts worth up to $50,000 without outside approval. Contracts up to $100,000 can be awarded with approval of the city manager, while contracts exceeding that amount must gain council approval.

“I wanted to confirm that I like the idea of this ordinance,” said Councilor Julie Fitzgerald. “It streamlines our operations while at the same time it maintains what we all agree is a good level of rigor, and that we’re adopting good contracting practices.”

Councilors approved the code amendment last month on first reading. The new policy now takes effect 30 days from the second reading, which came at the council’s Feb. 20 regular meeting.

The new policy comes at the request of city staff that currently are handling a period of unprecedented commercial and residential growth in Wilsonville. It also brings city code in line with state law allowing staff to authorize contracts of this type without council approval.

As approved, it 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.

City code still requires competitive bidding for other types of public improvement and personal service contracts less than $100,000.

Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar told councilors last month the city would 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 ordinance, she added, is the Autumn Park sewer line project on the west side of Wilsonville. Completed last fall, it required the city to hire an outside surveyor.

“We had no one on staff who could do that,” she said. “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.”

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