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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why should we pay less for office supplies when we can pay so much more from a “family” member.

Is it just laziness on the part of the town in not obtaining price quotes each year or can we attribute it to the "Family & Friends" policy so prevalent in our town?

Recently, I heard from several people that there is a direct order handed down from the “Exalted One” that supplies are to be bought from Arlott Office Products owned by the brother-in-law of the town attorney. I have heard the same thing from residents several times in the past and even had emails asking me to look into it.

This time, however, given all the things currently going on in town, I decided to FOIL copies of all invoices for 2015 and 2016 paid to Arlott Office Supply. Unbelievable! That’s all I can say as to the stack of bills I was given to copy.

I hadn’t yet had time to write about the results of my FOIL request when the situation seemed to be resolved at the April 12, 2017 town board meeting. Imagine that!

Finance Director Dan Dreimiller spoke about a list of supply quotes for 2017 that his office was making available to town employees and suggesting that the list be used when ordering supplies from now on.

Here is just the first item on the list:
Adding machine tape, 2.25 inches wide (12 pack)
  • Arlott Office Products (town's preferred vendor) $8.79
  • Hummels $4.64
  • W.B. Mason $3.19
Check out the rest of the price comparisons between, Arlott, Hummels and W.B. Mason on the pdf of the list provided to me at the town board meeting.

Amazing the price differences, eh? Are our town councilmen asleep at the meetings? Why are they approving these invoices without question?

Anyway, something must have made the Finance Director decide to do the right thing and adhere to the town's recently updated Purchase Policy. Was it my FOIL request?

I must say, however, I am somewhat skeptical about their sudden need for obtaining price quotes because according to the town’s recently updated Purchase Policy:
Informal Price Quotes may be obtained by telephone, electronic format or by mail from vendors. The attached informal price quotes form will be used for each vendor solicited. These will be attached to a completed requisition (purchase order), voucher and any other memos/correspondence and forwarded to the Town Supervisor for approval. The Town Supervisor will review and, if necessary, the Director of Finance will do further research and soliciting of materials and/or prices verify the expenditure is within the Town's approved budget. Upon approval of vendor and price, the approved white purchase order and voucher will be mailed to the vendor to initiate the order, with the canary copy being returned to the department.
So, given the fact that we do actually have a Purchase Policy (it's actually required by General Municipal Law) and it states that all purchase orders have to be sent to the town supervisor for approval, the question that will remain is whether orders will still be redirected to Arlott Office Products by the town supervisor even if a town employee uses another vendor.

Of course, the Purchase Policy also states:
Purchase Other than for Lowest Quoted Price
When a purchase is made from other than the lowest responsible offeror (their spelling, not mine), the documentation of the quotation shall be supplemented with a statement justifying such award. Such justification must demonstrate that the award provides for the prudent and economical use of public monies in the best interests if (oops! Who proof-read this policy?) the taxpayers of the Town.
With that in mind, I guess another FOIL request at year end will tell the story! This time I should probably ask for copies of any justifying statements!

By the way, any guesses where we get our copiers and who provides the town's copier maintenance agreements?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One can only hope the state auditors report is long and in depth. This is just business as usual.

Wait, wait ... you can hear it, just wait, 88.