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Council gives complete purchasing authority to staff


City manager Kathleen Soltis now has full control of the city’s paycheque.

Without any discussion Monday, council gave fourth reading to the city’s new purchasing bylaw, which removes the $1 million limit Soltis can spend without obtaining council’s approval.

The bylaw also increases managers’ spending limit from $5,000 to $25,000, the manager of risk and procurement will be authorized up to $100,000, the general manager of administrative services can authorize purchases up to $250,000, and the city manager can approve any purchase over $250,000.

All purchases must be in accordance with the purchasing procedures or as otherwise approved by council or the city manager.

“The biggest change that council will notice is the purchase for more than $1 million will no longer come to council,” Walter Babicz, general manager of administrative services told council two weeks ago when council gave first three readings to the bylaw.

He said nine municipalities have moved to this way of purchasing.

“It would remove the politics, perhaps, from the decision-making at city council,” he said, adding it would speed up the process of the city approving purchases as staff would have to wait for council approval. Babicz added it wasn’t “fair” for bring such a matter to council when council didn’t sit on the evaluation team.

Coun. Brian Skakun raised some questions about the bylaw and Babicz explained that council approves the budget and after that the only decision is to decide who gets the work.

“For example,” Skakun said. “If we award a contract for $5 million in roads, we don’t see the minutiae and we just trust administration that they’re going to get the best value for our dollars.”

After getting a few answers, Skakun put his support behind the new policy along with the rest of council.

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