Davenport aldermen on Wednesday fast-tracked an amendment to city code that gives the city’s finance director expanded purchasing authority in the event of a public emergency, as the city looks toward recovering from the most disastrous flood in recent memory.
For the new law to kick in, the mayor first has to declare a public emergency. At that point, the city’s finance director is given the ability to spend on emergency needs — defined as materials, supplies, equipment or services — without going through the city’s regular procurement process.
Council members approved the city code amendment on a 9-0 vote.
Generally, city purchasing policy follows a standard bidding process in which contracts are put out for public notice and contractors submit cost estimates. Contracts are typically awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, although other special considerations are taken into account, such as allowances for contractors based in the city.
City officials say the amendment aims to speed up purchasing when the situation calls for it. Once an emergency is finished, the expanded purchasing authority could be pulled by the mayor or the city council.
“Essentially what this does is it facilitates that flood response purchasing mechanism, updates the code so that it kind of reflects today’s current operating environment so that we can kind of more quickly move through that purchasing process,” said Brandon Wright, Davenport’s finance director and assistant city administrator. “So it essentially does that (and) makes sure that we are accountable to the city council for that.”
Another provision establishes an “operating emergency” for which no mayoral declaration is required. Under that portion of the city code, the finance director is authorized to spend as much as $100,000 on a single purchase that’s needed to address a “bona fide operating emergency.” The city council is required to be notified of any such purchases at the next immediate meeting under the new law.
Last month, Davenport was ravaged by Mississippi River flooding after a temporary flood barrier broke, spilling waist-high water into the heart of downtown. Scott County has since been added to the list of Iowa counties under presidential disaster declaration, opening the door for federal emergency aid.
Another flood-related item that advanced is a waiver for city permit fees for businesses that experienced flooding damage. That is expected to pass during the council’s meeting next week.
A collection of all our photos, videos from the Flood of 2019
Video from the Roam Restaurant and Bar in downtown Davenport shows the moment a HESCO barrier failed sending floodwaters from the Mississippi …
The Mississippi River is expected to reach a record level of 22.7 feet Thursday, May 2, 2019.
Continuing flood coverage from across the region Wednesday May 1, 2019.