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Mascoma Alters Bidding Policy

$10,000 Is Amount To Trigger Process

Canaan — The Mascoma Valley Regional School Board voted 4-1 Tuesday night to approve a revised bidding policy that raises the amount that must be spent before officials are required to obtain three competitive bids.

The board did not debate the change — which increased the threshold for bidding from $5,000 or more to $10,000 or more — and only Canaan board member Kimberly Depelteau-Tracey, who read the policy aloud during the meeting, voted no.

“I still think it needs to stay at $5,000. I don’t know why it is going to $10,000,” Depelteau-Tracey said.

SAU 62 Business Administrator Debra Ford said the new policy will allow her to negotiate with potential contractors and also said $10,000 is a relatively small amount given the school district’s $22 million budget.

“I have a lot more flexibility if you let me negotiate (with contractors on jobs that cost under $10,000),” Ford told the board.

After the meeting, Ford said with so many contracts awarded each year, it can become time consuming to seek three bids for small amounts. Two recent examples were rewiring and reinsulating classrooms, she said.

The new policy does not apply to the $23 million high school renovation project approved by voters in March, Ford said, because none of the contracts for the that work would be valued under $10,000.

She said Lebanon has a $7,500 threshold on bidding requirements, Lyme $25,000 and Kearsarge $10,000.

Ford said all work would still be advertised and that she often has several contractors respond on smaller jobs.

The only other change to the policy, which was first adopted in 1999 and last revised in 2009, is the elimination of a public bid opening at an announced time.

The School Board retains the authority not to seek competitive bids for amounts more than $10,000 if it is not “feasible or it may not be in the best interest of the Mascoma Valley Regional School District to contract services or make purchases in excess of $10,000 within the formal bid process,” the revise policy states. Except for the higher dollar amount, that phrasing is identical to the old policy.

Also Tuesday night, the board agreed to a request from Canaan Town Administrator Mike Samson to meet with the Canaan Selectboard at the next School Board meeting. Samson told Chairman Jim Gerding, of Enfield, there are several issues Selectboard members want to discuss.

“First we want to review the specific plan if bids (on the high school renovation) come in higher than expected,” Samson said. “We are interested in seeing the approach to make sure the tax rate doesn’t go up.”

Later in the meeting, Canaan Selectboard member Scott Borthwick said it would be wise for School Board representatives to come to the Selectboard from time to time and provide updates.

“We are the ones getting attacked on taxes,” Borthwick said.