Council Tables Policy Revisions

WINNSBORO – County Council tabled a vote Monday night on adopting revisions to the County’s procurement manual after Councilwoman Carolyn Robinson (District 2) asked for additional time to review the proposed changes.

Changes to the policy include requiring Council’s approval for purchases over $25,000, as well as the definition of “close family” members related to County employees. Those members are defined as “spouse, sibling, in-laws, uncle/aunt, or cousin,” and are used to determine conflicts of interest in awarding contracts or purchases in the new manual. The previous policy placed no threshold for Council approval, provided the purchase was a budgeted item, leaving purchases at the discretion of the Procurement Director and the County Administrator, and contained no definitions of family members.

The proposed policy gives the Director of Procurement authority to make purchases up to $15,000. Change orders less than 10 percent of the original contract price, or in the amount of $10,000 must be approved by the Administrator under the new guidelines. Change orders greater than 10 percent or more than $10,000 require Council’s approval.

Language defining conflicts of interest has been amended to include County officials in addition to employees of the County and the Office of Procurement to ensure the County does not enter into any purchasing agreement that would constitute a conflict of interest. New language added to the conflicts of interest portion of the manual states, in part:

“Any purchase or contract within the purview of this manual in which the Purchasing Director or any officer or employee of the county is financially interested, directly or indirectly, or which is, in any other manner, in conflict with state ethics laws, as they may be amended from time to time, shall be void if the other party knew or should have known of the interest or conflict; provided, however, that, before the execution of a purchase or contract, the County Administrator shall have the authority to waive compliance with this section when he or she finds such interest to be so remote or indirect as to be inconsequential and not in violation of law.”

County employees, elected officials or close family members are barred from bidding on County contracts “if that individual is authorized to exercise decision making authority or responsibility with regard to that contract for the county, and any such person is declared to have a conflict of interest,” new language inserted into the manual states, and County Council members may not bid on or be a subcontractor for any County contract.

Monday night, Interim County Administrator Milton Pope told Council his staff had added new language regarding subcontractors to the revised manual, to ensure subcontractors pay any applicable inspection fees and obtain any required permits for the specialty for which they are a subcontractor.

The revised policy manual in its draft form can be viewed in its entirety on the County’s website, www.fairfieldsc.com.