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The Richmond Ordinance Committee addressed the city’s purchasing policy Wednesday night after the Missouri Ethics Commission contacted Mayor Lance Green after the commission cited that the city did not follow their own policy on purchasing.
The Daily News filed the complaint last August after it was discovered that the landscaping contract for the new City Hall complex was awarded to Green’s girlfriend.
The process for awarding the contract differed from any of the other processes for bid for other construction phases of the complex.
Three people were asked to submit bids, in addition to Green’s girlfriend Amy Dorton. The person contracted to mow city property and a local landscaping company were also asked to submit bids. The bids were to include what the city would get for $10,000.
The city then brought in resident and landscaping expert Bosh Brunning to look over each bid without names or credentials attached. Brunning told The Daily News that he recommended Dorton’s bid. He said he had no knowledge of who submitted the bids and said that credentials did not matter in the bidding process. Dorton does not own a landscaping business and Green was seen doing the work by himself. Dorton was written two separate checks for $5,000, which is the limit the Mayor is allowed to spend without Council approval.
City Administrator Rick Childers told the committee that the commission had contacted the city and informed them that they were not following their own procedures. The Commission voted not to pursue criminal charges against Green.
“The only negative feedback we got from them is that, ‘You’re not following the purchase policy,’” Childers said.
Childers told the committee that a purchase policy was adopted several years ago, but was never entered into the city’s ordinance books.
Committee Chairwoman Beverly Gorham provided committee members with policies from several cities, including Kearney and Kirksville.
The committee worked for two hours hashing out the policies and looking through state statutes.
The key point addressed in the policy was that major purchases need council authorization. Childers said some items are approved through the budget, but sometimes the projects come in over budget. Childers pointed to the Lexington Street project as an example. The council approved the project but once engineering was complete, the price tag rose.
“We brought that one back because there was no way we could stay under budget,” Childers said.
The committee also decided to let the city administrator or the mayor spend up to $5,000 without seeking approval first. Councilman Tom Williams said the city should leave it at that amount because of all the emergency situations that a rise.
The committee will meet one more time before bringing the proposal to the full council.