Lox Council Approves Resolution Authorizing Piggyback Process

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council on Tuesday, Jan. 5 approved a resolution in a 3-2 decision authorizing the use of existing contracts from other government entities, rather than requiring requests for proposals, to perform certain services.

Town Manager Jamie Titcomb said the resolution authorizes the town to enter into agreements with vendors for goods and services utilizing other government agency contracts, with approval by the town manager or town attorney, if the amount is under $25,000. Contracts over $25,000 using that method could be approved with council authorization.

“You’ve heard us refer to it in the past as piggyback agreements, but this is the official term,” Titcomb said, explaining that he had included several lists of service agreements from Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach and Wellington as samples of what the town could draw from. “These are to give you an example, an idea of what is out there already, properly and publicly vetted and bid, and available to us without going through RFPs and various extended processes.”

Mayor Lisa El-Ramey confirmed with Titcomb that the resolution does not allow staff to go above the $25,000 threshold for contract approval.

“You still have to go through all the purchasing policies of the town, and anything over the normal thresholds have to come to the council for ratification,” Titcomb said, adding that the process had been initiated about two years ago. “We started doing what we called ‘shelf contracts,’ which are ready to go, out of the box contracts that define the scope of work, the cost and the services.”

Titcomb explained that the process bypasses costly and time-consuming RFPs, and it allows the town to pick and choose projects that fit the scope of work desired.

Vice Mayor Marge Herzog said she favored a procedure that would speed up the process, but Councilman Robert Shorr disagreed with a resolution that would give the town manager and mayor blanket authority to approve piggyback contracts.

“I believe they should come to council with a reason why we want to piggyback,” Shorr said. “I do not agree to bypass the RFP system when you have a larger project, because our town is unique. Our contractors need to come out and look at our town and look at the conditions.”

Shorr also said the resolution could be a backdoor process to replace public works.

“I do support the shelf contracts,” he said. “We did them last year because they were items that applied to our town, things that we needed. Nine times out of 10, I believe you’ll get a better cost when you’ve got competition.”

El-Ramey agreed with Shorr to some extent, but felt there are adequate controls over the process, which would provide quick access to some solutions for the town.

Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia said she favored approval of the resolution, saying it would allow the town to fix things more quickly.

“I think this is very important to move forward,” Maniglia said, who made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 3-2 with Shorr and Councilwoman Laura Danowski dissenting.