On March 31st Council approved two contracts in the amount of $5.8 million to complete underground services and provide streets and sidewalks for a couple of new streets in the Valley Ridge subdivision in order to sell new residential lots.
Neither of these contracts were tendered, with the excuse being that there was not enough time before the summer season to do so. The tendering process is in place so that when spending public dollars, we can be assured that we are getting the best value for our tax dollars. I am not suggesting that we are not getting good value with these particular contracts, but we just don’t know because we have short circuited the tendering process. In addition the City may have exposed themselves to a legal action brought by those that were not allowed to tender these projects.
Under the New West Trade Partnership Agreement, cities are mandated to tender all construction projects over $200,000 and to post those on the SaskTenders website. There is an exemption if an unforeseen emergency occurs and it appears the city is using this loophole to get around the proper process.
To believe we did not have time to go through the tendering process is just nonsense. The City knew very well they would have no lots available for sale, as far back as last summer or fall. What were they doing all winter? They had at least six months to prepare and approve the tender documents. Time certainly is running short, but to believe this is an unforeseen emergency is beyond belief. With the logic the city is using, would it not then be possible to completely eliminate the tendering process, just let the clock run out and claim there is no time to properly complete the process.
I am not sure if the blame should be laid at the feet of administration or council, but ultimately someone needs to be held accountable. This shows an indifference to, or a complete disregard to the whole tendering process. Our taxpayers deserve better.
In addition to not having the for-sight to have lots for sale at the present time, our homebuilding contractors have likely lost the entire summer building season.
This seems to be a continuation of questionable practices involving the finances of our city, which has gone on for a number of years. Our citizens expect and deserve to have our city act in a more accountable and responsible manner.
Don Robinson - Swift Current