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Bid threshold raised

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By Joe King

The Morgan County Commission approved a change to the bidding threshold that is anticipated to cut some of the red tape associated with purchases.

During the last County Commission Meeting the bid threshold was increased from $10,000 to $25,000. This means that the county no longer has to put out an official bid in the newspaper unless the purchase exceeds $25,000.

“It will untie our hands a little bit when we need something by not being so stringent,” said Morgan County Finance Director Gary Howard.

The threshold change aligns with state legislation that was passed in April 2015.

Howard said he doesn’t see any negatives that could come from the change. He added that raising the threshold would speed up the purchasing process by about two weeks. As far as financial impact, Howard said there would be little, if any as a result of this change.

Howard added that while this change is a welcomed one, too much deregulation in the way of bids could lead to the system being abused.

“When the need arises to buy something we have to comply with what the state says…” Howard said. “There has to be some regulation to force counties to bid out. I can see why the state would want a threshold. It can be abused.”

For department heads like Morgan County EMS Director Larry Potter the change means more options for equipment purchases.

“A lot of the things we have to buy exceeded $10,000, and we only had certain places we could buy from” Potter said.

However, just because the threshold was raised, doesn’t mean departments can make large purchases outside of their budget without approval from the county commission, a point Commissioner and Budget Committee Chairman Randy Roberts emphasized in a follow up interview.

“I think it gives us an opportunity to make decisions ourselves,” Roberts said.

Roberts said by having a higher threshold local businesses could win more bids and higher quality services and products could be purchased since the threshold wouldn’t force the commission to select an option based solely on the cost for bids under the new threshold.

The change went into effect immediately after the vote, Howard said.