|October 27, 2008
A-1645 - Qualified Purchasing Agent Bill
Just moments ago, the Assembly approved A-1645, which requires every municipality to appoint a qualified purchasing agent. It will now join its companion bill, S-770, which has already been released by committee and awaits final action on the Senate Floor. The Assembly vote was 49 in favor, 28 opposed, with 2 not voting. There was no debate or discussion of this measure, about which we wrote in detail in our June 11 “Dear Mayor” letter to you.
A-1645 changes the law from a permissive discretion that can be exercised by municipalities to an unfunded mandate. Presently, if a local unit can increase its bid threshold, pursuant to the Local Public Contracts Law, if it opts to appoint a qualified purchasing agent. The decision to have a certified QPA perform purchasing for a municipality rests squarely with the local governing body. We strongly believe this flexibility should remain.
It is, we believe, unwise and unnecessary to impose an unfunded mandate on beleaguered taxpayers when we are being told to prioritize and do more with less. The Department of Community Affairs, the agency required under the bill to implement training and certification, testified in opposition to A-1645 and its Senate counterpart, S-770 as an unworkable mandate. And the Commissioner of DCA has asked the sponsors to defer action on this mandate at this time.
We support professionalism in all aspects of municipal operations. To that end, the League is supportive of continuing education courses and, in fact, facilitates training seminars in coordination with the Department of Community Affairs as a means for purchasing agents to stay on top of new laws and statutes affecting purchasing functions. These successful and well received efforts provide ample tools to encourage proper cost effective purchasing.
This legislation does not in any way change the procurement process nor does it provide any new or additional capabilities to assist towns in improving purchasing functions. And, it would not save the towns any money. Adding another certification process is not of sufficient value to equal the costs associated with the mandatory requirement of appointing a qualified purchasing agent. This represents another demand on the property tax dollar.
Please contact your State Senator and urge opposition to this bill.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.