April 10, 2013

Adding sense to Franklin County's purchasing policy

MALONE — Franklin County is revising its purchasing policy, which may simultaneously end complaints and the rancor that legislators are hearing from department heads.

Legislators told County Manager Thomas Leitz, who oversees the Purchasing Department and houses its staff in his office, that they’ve heard numerous complaints for more than a year about rejected or delayed purchase orders or reimbursement vouchers.

Rejections can be about differing price quotes of a few pennies or the lack of vendor quotes in a time-sensitive situation or forced purchases of dozens of extra items to meet a minimum-order requirement when only a handful is actually needed.


Legislators also said department heads who question the rejections are treated rudely and that some fear future purchasing orders or voucher requests will be delayed if they complain.

Leitz countered that it is the department heads who are rude and that he has not heard any complaints and hasn’t been told that his staff has been difficult to deal with. But he is willing to open his weekly staff meetings to any who want to tell him their issues.


Legislator Sue Robideau (R-Brushton) said she is pushing for changes and cited a few recent examples of how common sense is sometimes lacking in following state-contract regulations outlined in the purchasing policy.

She said a Highway Department dump truck with a full load broke down on Route 11B and needed a $10 part before its driver could get back on the road. The closest place under state contract that supplies the part is in Plattsburgh.

That meant the stranded dump-truck driver had to wait with the disabled vehicle for five hours while a second highway employee made out the requisition form, got it approved, drove from Malone to Plattsburgh to buy the part and brought it back.

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