Statesboro City Council amended the city’s purchasing policy Tuesday so that vendors and service providers denied contracts by the council can no longer appeal to the city manager.
Instead, bidders dissatisfied with a council decision now could simply ask the council to reconsider. Under the old wording any contract award, whether approved by the council or the city manager, could be appealed within five days to the city manager, and if vendors were dissatisfied with the manager’s response, they could bring the appeal back to the mayor and council.
But there was a problem with appealing a council decision to the city manager, City Attorney Cain Smith told council members.
“In that case, if it was done by council, the city manager has absolutely no authority to change the awards made by council,” Smith said.
As amended, the purchasing system policy still allows vendors to appeal to the city manager, and then to the mayor and council, if a contract is awarded under the city manager’s authority in the first place.
But the option of an appeal to the manager on contracts awarded directly by the mayor and council has been eliminated. City Manager Randy Wetmore noted that contracts and purchases approved under his authority, without a council vote, are usually those with a price tag less than $20,000.
Last fall, after the council initially awarded a contract for insurance brokerage services on the city’s employee health plan to ShawHankins, two other agencies that made presentations, Glenn-Davis & Associates and Capstone Benefits Consulting, appealed to Wetmore.
He formally denied the appeals, upholding the council’s decision, and the insurance agencies then appealed to the council. Ultimately, after receiving indefinite advice from an unaffiliated out-of-state firm and contrary to the original recommendation by a city staff committee, the council in January awarded the health insurance brokerage contract instead to Glenn-Davis, which has provided the service since 2008.
In a separate action Tuesday, the council awarded Glenn-Davis & Associates a contract as broker for the city’s general liability and workers compensation insurance. Unlike the health insurance brokering, for which these city pays a direct fee, the broker for liability and workers comp policies receives a percentage of the premiums.
In this case, Glenn-Davis was the broker recommended by the city staff committee, which again considered the services offered and not the fees, said city Central Services Director Darren Prather. The other presentations were from different competitors, Lee, Hill & Johnston and BBWH, Prather said.
The council Tuesday postponed consideration of several proposed amendments to the alcohol ordinance, including a new insurance requirement for licensed businesses.
Three of the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance amendments were on the agenda for a first reading, as they had been originally for an April 17 meeting that was cancelled for lack of a quorum. A fourth proposed amendment that appeared on the April 17 agenda would modify a policy prohibiting customers under age 21 at some establishments.
But Tuesday’s agenda listed only the proposed amendments for an insurance requirement, a provision regarding special events and a definition of “low volume licenses” that would allow the council to consider a special fee level for these.
Mayor Jonathan McCollar asked for a motion to table these three items. Councilman Phil Boyum made the motion, and the members voted to table the amendments without any discussion or prior explanation.
Minutes later, Boyum asked Smith to explain why they had been tabled.
“The reason why is that there was also this other ordinance revision, that was on the original draft agenda when it went out, pertaining to under-21 admissions to alcoholic beverage licensee properties,” Smith said. “There were some issues raised by staff as to the enforcement of the provision as it was written.”
Officials wanted all four amendments considered “if not as a package, as at least somewhat related … two of them in particular,” he said. So all were withheld, and Smith said he hopes to call an Alcohol Advisory Board meeting and return the proposals to the next council agenda.
What the council actually spent the most time on Tuesday were special permissions for new commercial and residential developments and approval for tearing down an historic building, but these will be reported in a later story.
City Council, reduced to four members by the March resignation of the District 5 member, who is now a Bulloch County commissioner candidate, was all present. All votes were 4-0.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.