When Anne Arundel County residents go to the polls Tuesday, they'll have more than just politicians to vote for. Voters also will cast ballots on whether the county government should change the way it spends taxpayers' money.
Voters will be asked to decide whether the county's charter should be amended to allow the county to purchase goods and services for up to $25,000 without a sealed competitive bid. The county must now solicit bids for any purchase over $10,000.
The county would still have to get at least three quotes for any purchase over $1,000, said Fred Schram, the county's central services officer. "That will not change," he said. "We think that's good policy."
The $10,000 threshold has been the same for the past 22 years, and inflation has meant that many more routine purchases are having to go through the additional layer of bureaucracy, county officials have said. In the last fiscal year, 26 purchases fell into the $10,000-to-$25,000 range, Schram said.
"It is a cumbersome process, not only internally but for business as well," Schram said. He said the proposed change would "keep the charter reflective of current times."
While competitive bidding can help save taxpayers' money, a more streamlined process could also encourage more contractors to bid on projects, which also could help ensure the county gets the most for its money, Schram said.
The measure is supported by the County Council, which unanimously passed a resolution supporting the referendum, and by County Executive Janet S. Owens (D).
Two years ago the council passed a similar measure, but voters rejected it. That proposal would have allowed the council to decide what items to put through the sealed bid process, but it did not include a dollar limit, meaning that very expensive contracts could have been awarded without a thorough bidding process.