ROME — After an audit released by the state Comptroller’s Office in May found the city did not use a competitive process for its solar power purchasing agreements, the Rome Common Council passed a resolution to implement a corrective action plan.
The council reviewed the comptroller’s recommendations and formed a plan to fix the city’s competitive bidding process and solicitation. The council approved the plan in August.
Rome entered into an agreement with Vermont-based company groSolar in 2013 to install 10,000 solar panels on a 15-acre former landfill that is subleased by the city on Tannery Road and again in 2014 to install 9,000 panels on a 43-acre city-owned parcel on Lamphear Road that groSolar will lease for $341,250 over a 25-year period.
According to the audit, although the city’s procurement policy indicates that professional services are an exception to general municipal law bidding requirements — which require purchasing contracts more than $20,000 be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder and that public work in excess of $35,000 be competitively bid — it states that using a request for proposal process can ensure contracts “are awarded in the best interests of the taxpayers.”
The first part of the comptroller’s recommendation was to engage in a competitive process prior to entering into future power agreements. The city’s fix for this issue is to re-affirm that it will make sure it uses a competitive process consistent with applicable state and local laws.
The second audit recommendation was that the city needs to ensure that the established contract approval process is followed properly for all future contracts.
The city says it has an established contract approval process and “will, at times, adhere to that process for all future contracts.”
The plan stated the city also will periodically review the process to make sure that it is compliant with applicable procurement laws and that those contracts will be awarded in a manner that is in the best interests of the city.
The plan was adopted at a council meeting in August, but the above pieces already were implemented back in January.
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