WALLINGFORD — The Town Council ordinance committee voted unanimously Tuesday to advance to the full council a proposal that would raise the bid waiver threshold from $7,500 to $16,000.
Currently, town departments must ask the Town Council to waive the public bidding process for purchases not included in the budget that cost more than $7,500.
Department heads often do this to purchase items by a specific brand or manufacturer so the new item would integrate with existing equipment.
The goal is to get Wallingford in line with other towns and improve efficiency.
According to a June 12 memo from Comptroller Jim Bowes, Wallingford’s bid waiver threshold is on the low end.
Bowes’ memo states that Purchasing Agent Sal Amadeo put together a list of the bid waiver thresholds of 59 other municipalities. The average bid threshold is $16,593.
By removing the highest and lowest towns—Bloomfield at $90,000 and Waterbury at $2,500—which Bowes called “outliers,” the average is $15,552.
A summary of bids issued by Wallingford in 2018-19, the last fully completed fiscal year, shows that out of 197 total bids, 16 were up to $9,999, 14 bids were between $10,000 and $14,999, nine bids were between $15,000 and $19,999, nine bids were between $20,000 and $24,999 and 177 bids were above $25,000.
Raising the bid waiver threshold could mean less public scrutiny of purchases. In January 2019, the Town Council granted the police department a bid waiver to purchase an automatic license plate reader, a device that has drawn criticism from civil liberty advocates, at a cost of $17,000, just $1,000 more than the proposed new amount.