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19 November, 2020

Council takes control

Councillors from the Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) have fired a shot over the bow of council officers and staff with elected councillors rejecting tender recommendations.

By Phil Brandel

TRC Mayor Rod Marti said that his Council is focused on saving money

Councillors from the Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) have fired a shot over the bow of council officers and staff with elected councillors rejecting tender recommendations.

 At TRC’s October Council meeting, councillors overturned two separate officer recommendations in regards to awarding tenders. One tender was for a gravel re-sheet and one was for the purchase of two tractors and slashers.

Mayor Rod Marti said that Council was focussed on value for money and the overturned purchase decisions saved Council $120,000.00.

“Council is cognisant of delivering a balanced budget and the necessary purchases reflected the need for ongoing fiscal discipline,” he said.

“It’s Council’s view that the alternative contractor for the re-sheet will deliver the desired quality at a saving, and the alternative supplier will supply machinery that’s fit-for-purpose at a saving.”

Mr Marti added that Council’s view was that “finding savings was critically important given ratepayers ultimately underwrote all expenditure,” he said.   

 “The machinery for the other tender was $49,000 dollars cheaper while still meeting all the criteria that we requested, while council officers had decided to go with the most expensive tender.”

“We went with the second tender; because councillors are pretty focused on finding savings.”

 Mr Marti said that for the re-sheeting TRC had three local businesses who tendered for the re-sheet.

 “The company that we ultimately went with was the cheapest of all options,” he said

“The company we chose have done work for us in the past and we think we should be going for them because they offered the best value for money.

“For some reason, they (council officers) didn’t choose this local business even though they were 70,000 dollars cheaper.”

The officers claimed that the reason they didn’t award the tender to cheaper option was due because the submission wasn’t as detailed.

Mr Marti said that the TRC knew the contractor could do the work because they had done work for them in the past.

“As councillors, we need to tweak the methodology that council officers are using when awarding tenders,” he said.

“They are trying to stick to a methodology and we are saying that value for money and fit for purpose are things that are fairly significant factors.

“If a tenderer was the cheapest option and they had never done that work before it would be too great a risk to take, but we don’t see that we have taken any risks by choosing a different tender on these occasions, instead we wanted value for money and I think that is better for the local community.

“We don’t want to be critical of the officers but if we think the methodology needs re-tweaking which we do following the last meeting, that’s what we are going to do.”

A council insider said that the decisions had affected council officers. “The overturned decisions have caused a bit of stir in the office and some of the staff aren’t happy and it will probably end up affecting staff morale.”

 


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