Council approves increase in city manager’s spending authority

City Manager Adam Pirrie, seen during Tuesday’s Claremont City Council meeting, may soon enjoy a boost to his spending authority, following the adoption of a new ordinance. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

By Andrew Alonzo |

Claremont City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to bolster the city manager’s spending authority, allowing the current occupant, Adam Pirrie, to approve purchases and contracts worth up to $50,000 and direct competitive purchasing procedures.

The city manager currently has the power to approve purchases and contracts up to $25,000. The ordinance also increased the amount department and division heads may approve when it comes to direct competitive purchases. Division heads will get a bump up to $5,000 and department heads to $25,000, according to Claremont Public Information Officer Bevin Handel.

The ordinance will have a second read at the May 14 City Council meeting before being implemented.

“The current Direct Competitive Purchasing Procedure requires staff to obtain three quotes [from vendors] for goods and services with a cost of $2,500 or more,” Handel wrote in an email. “Once amended, this will set the threshold levels from this point on. There will be no annual change.

The ordinance would amend sections 3.15.050 and 3.15.060 of the city’s municipal code, which have not seen updates since 2011 and 2008 respectively, to reflect the new spending limits. Inflation over the years since their last updates was a factor in the move.

“The cost of labor, goods, and services has increased, necessitating an increase in the threshold levels,” Handel wrote. “It also clarifies the direct competitive purchasing procedure for obtaining price quotes and bids for purchases and contracts from $5,000 to $25,000.

“As the price of purchases and contracts increases due to rising costs, staff was taking more and more items to Council because they were exceeding the City Manager’s purchasing authority. These same purchases previously fell under the administrative approval process. The raising of the purchasing and bidding thresholds will reduce staff time and administrative costs related to preparing items for Council and issuing competitive bids under $5,000.”

Finance Director Jeremy Starkey said the change is not only meant to allow Claremont to be more consistent with surrounding local municipalities, but also to reduce the staff time associated with the performance of purchasing procedures.

In a staff report, 41 agenda items were prepared for City Council approval between the amounts of $25,000 and $50,000 since January 2021, requiring significant staff time to prepare the reports and extending the lead time to acquire the goods and services, Starkey added.

Following the staff report, Council member Ed Reece asked about constraints regarding the new purchase limit. Pirrie said he and other division/department heads can still only sign off on contracts on items that are budgeted.

“There are circumstances where, in implementing council direction, staff wants to enter into a contract, but if there isn’t a budget for it, even if it falls below the purchasing authority of the city manager or staff, then we would have to come to council to ask for an appropriation of funding, and at the same time approve the contract,” Pirrie explained.

Shortly before the unanimous vote, Mayor Pro Tem Corey Calaycay commented that when Jeff Parker was city manager, his spending authority was raised to a whopping $75,000 for a period.

“I supported a majority of council thereafter to lower the spending authority to $25,000 because notwithstanding the comment that things still have to pass through the budget … it brings more awareness when more things come to the dais and people get to see it on the agenda versus when things are just passed through,” Calaycay said. “But I recognize, we all recognize, the situation with inflation now everything is much more expensive, so in light of that I am supportive of this, but I didn’t want to ignore concerns of the past of why we’ve had a lower spending authority for the city manager.”

Council member Jennifer Stark also echoed support for the ordinance. Mayor Sal Medina commented that Tuesday’s item was something he floated three years ago. Pirrie said he welcomes the update, which will save his department time and money in the long run.


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