This past Monday we appeared before the BOS during the Public Comment period to respond to statements made by Town Manager Welch at the May 8th Selectmen’s meeting regarding the Purchasing Policy. The Selectmen had approved a new policy on April 24th, a copy of which is here.
What was important about this is that Mr. Welch indicated that the dollar level in the policy requiring a sealed bid had not been increased to $50,000 on April 24th, only discussed, and that it was still $15,000 for sealed bids. This was despite the fact that the new policy published on the Town web site on April 25th indicated a $50,000 threshold in Section 718-3, had an implantation date of April 24th and was signed by all five Selectmen. We want to bring to the public’s attention the timelines involved here.
- April 24th: Selectmen approve changes to the Purchasing Policy ordinance described as “clarification of intent, not substantial changes.”
- April 25th: The updated Purchasing Policy approved on the 24th is posted to the “RFP’s and Bids” page on the Town web site. This version includes an increase to the threshold requiring sealed bids in Section 718-3 of the ordinance from $15,000 to $50,000, it is signed by all of the Selectmen with an effective date of April 24th.
- May 5th: Rational Taxpayers has a Letter to the Editor published in the Hampton Union that is critical of the threshold increase.
- •May 8th: During the Selectmen’s meeting Town Manager Welch states that the Purchasing Policy has not changed and that the taxpayers group was confused and the policy is question was a draft even though signed by all the BOS.
- May 11th: The April 24th version of the Purchasing Policy, with the $50,000 threshold, is gone from the Town web side replaced by the prior unsigned version from August 10, 2015.
We asked that the BOS address this during their meeting, as this is a very important issue. What appears to us is that there is a slight of hand with the policy, which is not in the taxpayer’s best interests. Either the policy was a draft, which it clearly is not, or a fast one was being pulled by the Town Manager. There is some explaining to do.
On a related issue, the Town is spending a lot of money as we speak on paving construction on Mill Road and others, but there is no indication of any paving bids and awards on the DPW website, other than a paving bid that does not include the roads currently being paved that goes back a year ago. We are concerned about what appears to be sloppy practices and possibly an attempt to cover up a bad decision for the convenience of the various town departments at the expense of the Taxpayers.