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Council learns about the discretionary fund and procurement policy

by Sylene Argent

During a special meeting on Monday evening, Essex Council learned about the Town’s Procurement Policy and the Council Discretionary Fund.

  Jackson Tang, Assistant Manager of Business Services, introduced Council to the Procurement Bylaw and Policy.

  The function of this Bylaw, he said, is to provide guidelines for buying goods and services efficiently and effectively, and in a fair, non-discriminating, and transparent way.

  When dealing with this Bylaw, he noted, consideration of environmental, economic and financial, and social impacts are considered.

  When Council members make decisions on procurement issues, Tang said, it is important to note, they are spending taxpayers’ money. Therefore, it is important to be fair.

  The Fundamental Principals of procurement, he noted, provide Essex with goods and services in the right quality, price, quantity, place, and source, and at the right time.

  He also defined the differences between Request for Proposal, a Request for Tender, and a Request for Quotation, etc.  Tang also explained the thresholds of costs associated to tenders and the appropriate method of obtaining those quotes.

  A segment of the presentation spoke about comparing tenders when it comes to varying offers for prices. He also discussed the benefits of putting in construction tenders early in the year.  

  Current trends include electronic tendering and group purchases with other municipalities or broader public sector organizations, he noted.

   Jeffrey Morrison, Director of Corporate Services and Treasurer, then provided information about the Council Discretionary Fund, which provides members of Council with a funding mechanism to assist community organizations whose mandate furthers Council’s priorities for the community.

  Council’s priorities, Morrison explained, includes promoting a healthy, safe, and environmentally conscious community, in addition to healthy and active living through recreational and cultural opportunities.

  The purpose of this fund is to ensure that a fair, equitable, and transparent framework exists to guide the allocation of funding from the Council Discretionary Fund for purposes that benefit the community of Essex, he stated.

  Typically, Councillors get $2500 each year. Minimum grant payable through the fund is $100, with the max being $1000. The fund is not available during an election year.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman said no more than $2800 can be provided to a single group, despite several councillor contributing. This is determined during the annual budget process.

  Council members direct a group or organization they would like to support through this fund to prepare and submit a request for funding, in writing, to the Director of Corporate Services.

  Organizations eligible for this fund, Morrison said, include community-based not-for-profits and charitable organizations or volunteer groups, youth organizations, food banks, the Legion, etc.

  Council moved to receive both presentations. 

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