NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 14, 2014

Seabrook officials eye new purchasing policy

Manzi: Move will save 'significant' amount of money

SEABROOK — When it comes to public spending, it’s important to be cost conscious and get the best bang for every taxpayer dollar.

In pursuit of that theme, town officials are soon expected to approve a major overhaul of the town’s purchasing policy, with the goal of saving what Town Manager Bill Manzi believes will be a “significant” amount of money.

Manzi has proposed, and selectmen are currently reviewing, the 12-page document that will determine how everything is purchased with town monies.

Manzi is not only proposing new rules on how the town buys its goods and services, but also who buys them. He’s proposing the town use an in-house purchasing agent, instead of department heads and other town personnel individually buying supplies and items, which is the current practice.

In Seabrook, purchases currently aren’t required to go out in a competitive bidding process until the amount is expected to exceed $25,000.

The high threshold allows purchases without use of bids for most supplies and equipment, other than vehicles and big-ticket items. Presently, the town of Seabrook too often ends up paying retail for needed items under that limit, Manzi said, and paying retail is something a public entity should never do.

“At the end of the day — even for small items — if you have a purchasing relationship with a provider, you should pay less than retail because of all the business (a town) does with the company,” Manzi said. “The town should always pay less than the average consumer.”

The concept of centralized purchasing is one that Manzi brought to the table when he became town manager last summer. The idea has impressed the selectmen, according to Selectman Aboul Khan.

“When a new town manager comes, he brings 20 new things with him,” Khan said recently. “The board takes some and rejects others. But this, right away it was a big thing for the board.”

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