Ellis County Commissioners unanimously approved a countywide purchasing policies and procedures manual during Monday’s meeting. County purchasing agent Kim Gould presented the newly approved manual.
“When I was hired, I was asked to write a new purchasing and procedures manual. The previous policy was antiquated and hard to understand. I wanted to make our new policy straight forward and easy to understand,” Gould said.
“It is my responsibility to see we are in compliance with regulations. This is not to say we are not in compliance, but make sure we stay within compliance. Rather than an enforcer, I want to be a resource to see we are in compliance and the best choices are made,” Gould said.
The new policy includes a best value procurement policy, cooperative purchasing, exemptions and emergency purchases, purchase authorization/requisition process, biding ethical practices and a county credit card policy.
Much of the commissioner’s discussion surrounded requisitions and emergency purchases. Concerns were expressed where a required purchase or the need for a service would be needed.
“Requisitioning is the formal request for a purchase to me made. A requisition is required for all purchases. Authority to approve requisitions for processing is delegated to the county purchasing agent,” Gould said.
Commissioners Bill Dodson and Ron Brown both asked about the necessity of a requisition if a needed repair was needed when a piece of equipment was broken down in a roadway or there was a flat on a roadway.
“As long as a requisitions accompanies the request for payment, it can be processed,” Gould said.
Gould told the commissioners there was a concern over expediting purchase orders. “Purchase orders are processed the day we receive them and usually within a couple of hours,” Gould said.
Credit cards were another discussion item and concern among the commissioner’s.
“I feel there are to many cards out there,” Gould said. She went on the say many travel expenses such as motel and other expenses could be handled in advance through purchasing.
The policy does limit card purchases to $500.
“Anything over $500 must be requested through the purchasing department,” Guild said.
County Judge Carol Bush and many of the commissioners expressed the need for an education process to inform the county’s managers and staff.
“There must be education on the use of credit cards,” Bush said.
Gould told the commissioners that an education and training program would be accomplished.
Gould urged the commissioners to support the use of a monthly transaction guide when submitting expense reports.
Included in the discussion related to the purchasing department, Commissioner Paul Perry asked Gould about the number of employees needed in the purchasing department.
Gould responded describing a list of more than 20 functions the department does besides purchasing.
“We have a staff of two plus myself. The purchasing department is also the accounts payable department. The larger percentage of our time is spent on accounts payable with very little to purchasing,” Gould said.
Gould went on to say she has used clerical help from other departments for clerical duties.
No action on four other agenda items related to purchasing was taken as a result of the approval of the new policies and procedures manual.
An action item to consider the upgrading of the commissioners court audio system by Perry was tabled with no action taken.
“Actually I looked into this item back in November. The proposed cost was $20,000,” Bush said.
Perry said that, especially with the afternoon meetings, actions of the court must be more available to the public and be able to post on the county website.
Perry told the commissioners he was aware of an upgrade system that would cost around $1,000 per month.
“We need something that has editing abilities,” Perry said.
Dodson said he sees the need but wanted more information to make a decision.
A discussion took place between County Fire Marshall Joe Stewart and the commissioners about issuing burn bans. Perry asked to rescind the county burn ban if the drought index is below the appropriate levels.
Steward told the commissioners the current index level is where the current ban can be dropped.
“We can revisit the ban if the index gets below the required level. When a ban is put in force, it is for 90 days unless rescinded,” Stewart said.
The vote was unanimous to rescind the current ban.
Other action items:
• The commissioners unanimously approved a recommendation by Bush not to impose an additional $1.50 fee to vehicle registrations. The fee is allowed by the state to fund special services such as school crossing guards. The county has the option to accept or decline the fee.
• Perry requested the commissioners to approve Joe Williamson to the Ellis County Emergency Services district #6 Board. The request was unanimously approved.