|February 12, 2008
Information on QPA S-770 and A-1645
The debate continues over whether municipalities should be mandated to appoint a Qualified Purchasing Agent pursuant to S-770 and A-1645.
Recently, the League and other groups opposed to S-770 met with representatives of the Governing Purchasing Agents Association. We commend the action of Senator Rice, the sponsor of S-770 for holding the bill to allow the affected parties time to meet and hopefully work through differences. Unfortunately, we could not reach common ground. We recognize the efforts put forth to make this bill agreeable, however, the underlying premise of the bill remains a mandate.
We cannot conceive the urgency for this mandate nor do we see a crisis in purchasing procedures that this bill purports to fix. The cost impact on municipalities and the increased stress that will be placed on the State system to implement training requirements render this bill an unworkable mandate. The economic climate in our State demands mayors and governing bodies to focus attention on much more pressing issues.
There is no doubt of the League’s ongoing support for professionalism in all aspects of municipal operations. Continuing education and frequent training seminars to keep abreast of various statutes that impact purchasing functions provide ample tools to encourage proper cost effective purchasing. Governing Purchasing Agents are valuable employees who engage in purchasing functions and ensure compliance with the Local Public Contracts Law; but the misconception is that mandatory certification as qualified purchasing agents will result in an economic benefit for towns.
Important to note, the Department of Community Affairs is on record opposing S-770 and A-1645. The Municipal Managers Association, the Association of Environmental Authorities, NJ Association of Parking Authorities and Agencies and the Passaic Valley Housing Authority are also opposed to this bill.
The League believes the mandatory approach of this legislation should be disbanded in favor of perhaps, encouraging municipalities to utilize QPAs. Otherwise, our property taxpayers will bear the increased costs of mandated QPAs without any recognizable public benefit.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.