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Commentary: The proposed charter and no-bid contracts

September 03, 2012|By Perry Valantine

There's been a lot of talk (and some shenanigans) about the "no-bid" provisions in the proposed Costa Mesa charter.

The council insists there's no such thing as "no-bid" contracts or purchases. Here's the truth:

State law. California's Public Contract Code was enacted to "eliminate favoritism, fraud and corruption in the awarding of public contracts." (Public Contract Code Section 100)

•Allows public works contracts of $45,000 or less to be issued without competitive bidding. (Section 22032(a))

•Requires informal bids for public works contracts between $45,000 and $175,000. (Section 22032(b))

•Requires formal bids for public works contracts exceeding $175,000. (Section 22032(c))

•Prohibits splitting a project into smaller parts to avoid exceeding the limits established for competitive bidding. (Section 22033)

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Costa Mesa Municipal Code. Requires all public works projects (except for maintenance) to be awarded in accordance with Public Contract Code (Section 22032).

•Prohibits splitting a project into smaller parts to avoid exceeding the limits established for competitive bidding.

•Allows purchases of less than $5,000 to be made without competitive bidding. (CMMC Section 2-165)

•Requires informal bids for purchases between $5,000 and $50,000. (CMMC Section 2-167)

•Requires formal bids for purchases exceeding $50,000. (CMMC Section 2-166)

Note: The provisions of the Municipal Code may be changed at any time, by a majority vote of the City Council, as long as the change complies with other applicable laws or regulations (state law now, or city charter if adopted).

Proposed charter. The proposed charter says, "the city is exempt from the provisions of all California statutes regulating public contracting and purchasing" for projects and purchases that are considered "municipal affairs" and are funded only by city revenue sources (no state or federal funding). (Section 401(b))

•The proposed charter requires the council to "set a value at which Municipal Public Works Contracts shall be exempt from formal public bidding" and requires the council to adopt procedures to ensure "the best value and quality of work is being obtained." (Section 401(c))

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