Press-Republican

July 29, 2013

Purchasing cited in audit

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Questions have resurfaced about Franklin County’s purchasing policy as legislators strive to correct numerous issues raised in an independent audit.

Some legislators want to adopt a tweaked policy at their next meeting, set for Aug. 1, while others still wonder if purchasing shouldn’t be removed from the jurisdiction and oversight of County Manager Thomas Leitz because of his hefty workload.

County Auditor Fran Perry said several county policies, including one covering purchasing, must be updated so she and any others working with county money are doing so from the same document.

“I have no rules to go by or how easy they are to enforce and how exactly we’ll handle things” if there is ever a question about a payment or voucher, she said.

She said she cannot update her own auditing policy until a revised purchasing policy is in place.

REVISED VERSION

When purchasing issues were raised in April, Leitz asked for additional staff to help with the complex requests from larger departments.

But legislators felt updating and simplifying the policy would ease the workload on his existing staff.

Legislator Sue Robideau (R-Brushton) said she wants more vouchers used instead of purchase orders for routine bills like fuel and telephones. She suggested removing purchasing from Leitz’s control because he has more important county business to do.

“I have concerns about what to do with purchasing,” she said.

But Finance Committee Chairman Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake) said he wants the policy voted on as soon as possible to, before the end of the year, take at least one item off a three-page list of concerns raised by auditor Roger Lis.

He said the purchasing policy need only be tweaked, not rewritten, and that Leitz has a revised version ready to go that adds the county auditor as a second person to sign off on county purchases.

BEST-VALUE POLICY

Legislators agreed to send the issue back to the Finance Committee to discuss at 9 a.m. Aug. 1, along with an auditing policy and the merits of a best-value law that was recently adopted in both the village and town of Malone and is under review by the Village of Chateaugay.

The policies allow quality goods sold by a local vendor to be purchased even at a slightly higher price instead of ordering cheaper items from a distant site where shipping and handling costs and timely delivery play a role.

Leitz said he is opposed to a best-value policy based on an opinion of the State Comptroller’s Office that says best value is based on quality not price and cannot be quantified.

He said the county could be sued with such a policy in place.

But legislators want County Attorney Jonathan Miller to obtain copies of the adopted policies and report back to them at the upcoming session.

Email Denise A. Raymo: draymo@pressrepublican.com