Does a municipality have to go to bid to purchase a used vehicle?
It depends upon the price and who owns the vehicle.
- If the price is below $20,000, the municipality's procurement policy would control.
- If above $20,000, the municipality would need to go to bid unless the equipment was being purchased from another governmental agency.
The surplus rules fall under General Municipal Law §103(6). The critical text is “surplus and second-hand supplies, material or equipment [to be] be purchased without competitive bidding from the federal government, the state of New York or from any other political subdivision, district or public benefit corporation.”
From our new Running Your Highway Department workshop manual.
NYS General Municipal Law §103 requires competitive bidding for:
- Public works contracts of more than $35,000
- Purchase contracts of more than $20,000
The local board may reduce this number, but cannot increase it. Be sure to check with the municipal attorney and the elected board to know the various limits. Remember that the competitive bid can be awarded to the lowest initial costs of the total costs or best value.
Exceptions to bidding
There are a large number of exceptions to the bidding limits that are available for a Highway Department. Here is a brief summary of the exceptions. For more details, review the Cornell Local Roads Program workbook Powers & Duties of Local Highway Officials.
- Use of NYS Office of General Services (OGS) contracts (State bids)
- County and other municipal contracts – This includes piggybacking on other contracts if authorized by both your municipality and the bid being used
- Leases of equipment with some limitations on when used
- Surplus and second-hand supplies when purchased from other governments or districts. Municipal auctions are still covered by the bidding rules.
- Professional services – This is normally done using a Request for Proposals (RFP)
- Emergencies – Be sure the emergency is declared and that the elected board is informed.