, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 14, 2014

Seabrook officials eye new purchasing policy

Manzi: Move will save 'significant' amount of money


Manzi said it’s hard to quantify this early in the game how much of the town’s $20 million budget could be saved by centralizing purchasing and adhering to a tight bid policy. The new procurement policy would extend beyond money spent from the town’s operating budget, he said, to purchases made with grant money, as well as those made from the police department’s special D’Alessandro fund.

“The savings would be a lot,” Manzi said. “I’d say between $200,000 and $500,000 a year. That’s substantial.”

Manzi knows that department heads have loyal and favorite vendors who’ve given them good prices and service for years, and come through in emergencies. The new policy doesn’t wipe out those relationships, he said, it just keeps everyone on their toes, and sharpening their pencils when written bids are requested.

He also believes through this consolidation, the town can get lower prices buying in bulk for the same items all departments use, but now purchase separately in small quantities, such as paper and office supplies.

Manzi plans on having a bid page on the town’s website, allowing anyone to review the town’s bid requests. That will foster an open, transparent and fair process that will benefit taxpayers, Manzi said.

But, department heads will continue to run their departments and determine what’s needed, he said.

“We’re not going to tell the department heads what they need; they’re still going to tell us,” Manzi said. “But we’ll go out and get it for them.”

Manzi doesn’t expect to hire a purchasing agent, but will utilize current staff to do the buying, he said.

In addition to a new purchasing policy, Manzi is reviewing the town policy that stipulates how and when employees can use the town’s credit cards, as well as how surplus town property is listed, handled and disposed. For example, Manzi said, a town should inventory all its capital assets annually to understand their condition and especially to make sure everything is still there.

Next Monday’s agenda will include a discussion of the draft of the new purchasing policy Manzi has proposed, he said. At the meeting, more changes could be proposed, or selectmen could approve it.

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