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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


New purchasing policy brings Berlin up to date with county

(Aug. 13, 2015) Berlin updated its decades-old purchasing policy on Monday, as the council voted to adopt a resolution that will, among other things, provide new rules on purchases of less than $10,000 made by employees.
Under the new resolution, purchase orders will be issued prior to any purchase unless it falls under administrative payroll and health care fees, debt-related transactions, utility services, oil and gasoline purchases, telephone and internet services, annual fire inspections, employee reimbursements, landfill charges, planning and building inspections or park fee refunds.
Town Administrator Laura Allen said one of the major differences is the increase in the employee purchasing threshold from $1,000 to $10,000, something that’s in line with Ocean City, Princess Anne and Worcester County.
Allen said that portion of the policy was at least 28 years old, while Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said some of the other policies had been in place since the 1960s.
Purchases of $5,000 or less require approval by a department director, between $5,000.01 and $10,000 by the town administrator and more than $10,000 by the town council.
Additionally, town credit card allowances were expanded to include superintendents and the administrative assistant at town hall (limited to $1,500), as well as previously allowed positions of town administrator and department heads (limited to $5,000).
“It also would enable staff to use the credit card for lower value purchases, mainly in an effort to save some money on the check processing cost that the town is currently incurring as part of its payment process,” Allen said.
Purchases between $1,000 and $5,000 require bid quotes attached to purchase orders and informal bids from at least three sources on purchases $5,000.01 to $10,000. Formal sealed bids are used for “major purchases” of more than $10,000, and staff are required to advertise contracts.
The new policy also includes stipulations encouraging environmental, social and fiscal responsibility when making purchases. Employees are asked to consider factors such as waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions, for example, as well as thee use of local businesses and “life cycle cost assessment.”
Steve Farr, development director at Assateague Coastal Trust, said portions of the new policy stemmed from his work with Managing Director Jeff Fleetwood on an application for a Sustainable Maryland designation.
“One of the actions, as they call them, that they recommend a municipality to consider is to adopt a green purchasing policy, which is essentially to build into your purchasing process a consideration of greener alternative products,” he said.
Farr said the policy does not force the town to buy “green” products.
“Sometimes those products are more expensive, sometimes they’re the same price, sometimes they’re less expensive,” he said. “[The policy] is really couched in terms of whenever practical, which could be either financially or logistically or practically.
“I think it’s the right thing to do, and it’s not binding the town to buy more expensive products,” Farr added.
The new policy, which passed unanimously, will become effective 50 days after the meeting.