Grey Highlands Councillor Paul Allen would like to have more information when it comes time for council to make major spending decisions.

Earlier this year, Allen brought forward a resolution, approved by council, that requested members of council be provided with more information on municipal requests for proposals and tenders. The resolution requested that members of council receive all the information submitted by companies bidding on municipal works through the tender or request for proposal process.

At council’s meeting on July 3, CAO Karen Govan delivered a follow-up report on the issue that detailed that members of council have limited involvement in the tendering/request for proposal process.

Allen, however, said the point of his resolution was not to have members of council becoming involved in the tendering/request for proposal process itself, but rather to have more information after that process is completed.

“When I brought this up, it wasn’t to be involved in the process,” said Allen, who noted that just moments earlier in the meeting council had voted to approve two tenders with a total value of close to three-quarters of a million dollars. “All we have is the name of a company and the bottom line. If we are approving that kind of spending, I personally want to know more than the bottom line.”

Just prior to the procurement process discussion, council had approved tenders for winter sand and salt (total: $257,380) and the provision of fuel, fuel tanks and a fuel management system to the municipality (total: $413,875).

Allen, who chairs the municipality’s planning committee, said when a planning application comes forward council sees the reports of the proponent and municipal planners, views all the agency comments and is fully aware of who is making the application.

“It seems so bizarre we’re approving three-quarters of a million dollars and this is all the information we get,” said Allen.

The CAO’s report stated: “government procurement processes follow strict policy rules that ensure fair and open processes. They should be free from political pressure or obstruction. This arms-length approach protects elected officials from accusations of interference and perceived or apparent conflicts of interest. Municipal staff are trained in procurement practices and must follow council’s approved procurement policy and adhere to ethical procurement standards when evaluating proposals.”

Govan said the municipality’s procurement policies, adopted in 2022, are well-researched and were vetted extensively by the municipality’s legal advisors.

“This is best practices from the industry,” said Govan, who added that in many municipalities budgeted items that go to tender don’t come back to council for approval.

Coun. Tom Allwood noted that the budget process is the time when council exercises its spending authority.’

“We are involved early in the process and we have final approval,” he said.

Council voted 4-2 in favour of receiving the report with Allen and Mayor Paul McQueen opposed. Coun. Dan Wickens was absent.

After council approved the motion to receive, Allen questioned the next step on the matter. He noted that the original motion requesting that council receive additional information on tenders and requests for proposals still stood.

“There is no decision on if council wants that information or if we agree we’re not going to get it,” he said.

Clerk Amanda Fines-VanAlstine said that since the staff report didn’t make a formal recommendation that a separate resolution would be required if council wanted to follow up on the matter.

By Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 04, 2024 at 11:30

This item reprinted with permission from   Collingwood, Ontario
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