Ballot measure would bring bidding rules current

June 18, 2020

City Charter vote is June 30

(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a 5-part series on the vote to revise the City Charter)

Bidding rules set up nearly a half century ago are hampering the way business can be done now, according to city leaders.

It is the subject of the third proposition on the ballot to revise the Marlow City Charter on June 30. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Section 4-3 deals with bidding for public improvements.

The section currently reads as follows: “Public improvements may be made by the city government itself or by contract. The council shall award all contacts for such improvements. A contract for public improvements of more than $1,000 may be awarded only to the lowest and best responsible bidder after such notice and opportunity for competitive bidding as the council may prescribe. All bids may be rejected, and further notice and opportunity for competitive bidding may be given.”

“In 1971, $1,000 for public improvements was a fairly significant number,” said city administrator Jason McPherson. “Today, the state bidding requirements are much higher.”

The ballot measure would change the $1,000 threshold to match the state level in the Oklahoma Competitive Bidding Act. Currently, the minimum amount required for public bidding on a public improvement is $50,000.

One example, McPherson noted, was the Redbud Chapel HVAC unit.

“Since a new unit was going to be over $1,000, we had to bid the replacement,” said McPherson. “That requires time to specify the unit, publish a bid notice, wait 21 days to accept bids, meet with contractors to go over the bid, and finally award the bid. That can be a two to three-month process.”

McPherson added that the Chapel had to be closed to rental during that time period.

“That caused a number of folks to not be able to utilize the historic property,” he said. “With new bid limits, smaller issues like this can be handled much quicker.”

Proposition III asks voters “Shall Article 4, Section 4-3 of the Charter of the City of Marlow be amended and revised to hereinafter read as follows? Public improvements may be made by the City Government itself or by contract. The City Council shall award all contracts for public improvements in compliance with the requirements of the Oklahoma Competitive Bidding Act codified at Okla. Stat. title 61, Second 101 et seq, as amended. All bids may be rejected and further notice and opportunity for competitive bidding may be given.”

A “yes” vote would approve the measure.

“There is also a limit on what the city administrator’s position is allowed to spend,” said McPherson. “Anything over that limit, which I am recommending to stay at a nominal figure, would go before the council for approval.”

The spending limit will be set by the council through an ordinance.

Proposition III follows ballot measures to update councilmember qualifications and remove the Personnel Board.