Safety & Accident

City of Flint Spends $87,219 on Vehicle Repairs Without Competitive Bids

February 12, 2009

FLINT, MI -  The City of Flint spent $87,219 in 2007 and 2008 repairing vehicles without getting competitive bids and without following other procedures outlined in city ordinances, according to the Flint Journal.

Repairing city vehicles for the past two years was completed without formal bids and approval by City Council, as required by city ordinances. The city spent a total of $87,219 without following its purchasing rules, although Mayor Don Williamson said they can be done through the "emergency purchasing" ordinance, although there's no records of "emergency purchases" for collision work at City Council offices.

 In 2007, seven contracts were awarded above the $3,500 threshold that requires City Council approval and formal bidding. They totaled $38,649.

In 2008, six contracts, totaling $48,570.

Expenses were incurred to repair police cruisers, which cost upwards of $16,000, far more than the $3,500 threshold at which the city requires competitive bids, according to city records supplied to the Flint Journal.

However, Mayor Don Williamson said the city needs to bypass the normal way it does business so police vehicles can be repaired quickly.

Williamson claims the repairs were "emergency purchases" which means that the purchases would not need to go through the formal bidding process.

However, the requirements for "emergency purchases" also apparently were not followed. A letter must be sent to City Council for all emergency purchases and the office said it had none on file for the repair work.

Ken Braun, who heads up the government transparency project at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said it's always better to have bids scrutinized in the open.

The city's records show at least 13 contracts worth more than $3,500 were awarded to collision repair companies in 2007 and 2008. The city's ordinances require that any purchase of more than $3,500 be done in a formal bidding process and approved by the City Council before awarding contracts.

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