The Streator City Council established policies that limit spending of city officials but chose not to cut local businesses a break when it comes to the bidding process.
The City Council reviewed new purchasing policies that manage the spending authority of department heads as well as the city manager.
The position of city manager was limited to purchases $20,000 and under with some exceptions including utility payments and ongoing bills. Department heads were limited to $5,000.
City Manager Scot Wrighton said when he returned to Streator three years ago, those limits weren’t as clear.
“I think this is a more transparent way to deal with it,” he said.
Large purchases that are in accordance with a contract will be allowed, but something such as a police vehicle purchase more than $20,000 will need to come before the City Council.
Streator businesses kept on same ground during bidding
While reviewing their purchasing policies, the city briefly considered spending more money to support local businesses.
A policy was considered that would have allowed the council to turn down a low bid if a Streator bidder came within 3 percent of that bid.
Councilman Joe Scarbeary and Councilwoman Tara Bedei considered raising that number to 5 percent and adding a cap or sliding scale.
Wrighton reminded the council the price difference could vary depending on projects.
“If you’re buying stationery it’s not a big deal, but if you’re buying millions of dollars worth of sewer it’s going to be a big percentage,” Wrighton said.
Councilman Brian Crouch said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with their current bidding process.
“We’re getting fair bids,” Crouch said. “We’ve never done it and I think it keeps the bidding process a little more honest than if you were to have a policy.”
The council also discussed local businesses are able to sometimes undercut other businesses because transportation costs are limited.
Mayor Jimmie Lansford and Councilman Ed Brozak ultimately agreed, tipping the majority in favor of not altering the current policy.
City to consider small cell ordinance
The city will also consider adopting a small cell wireless model ordinance in order to recoup a dip in the city’s telecom tax.
Wrighton explained the drop-off reflects a change in technology and customer preference as residents are going away from hard-wired telecom to wireless, which does not rely as much on municipal rights of way for infrastructure.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a new legislation creating a model ordinance that allows cities to regulate small cell wireless facilities and collect fees for permits and inspections.
Lansford said the city has usually shied away from tax “increases,” but supported this new ordinance to make up for losses.
“I agree we don’t want to increase taxes but there’s sometimes we do and this is a small amount,” Lansford said. “We can’t let the general fund become defunct.”