DDA adopts new policy for buying goods and services


Executive Director Kristopher Larson has more leeway when it comes to smaller purchasing decisions.

To avoid delays and speed things up for local vendors, the members of the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority adopted a new bidding and purchasing policy.

The policy allows DDA Executive Director Kristopher Larson and his staff to make purchases and put together projects that aren’t a drain on the organization’s budget without having to get approval from the board, which meets on a monthly basis.

Larson will also have the authority to execute certain contracts on the board’s behalf.

Here are the guidelines of the new policy:

  • Purchases of materials, supplies or services that exceed $15,000 must be competitively bid and approved by the DDA board. But at their discretion, board members can direct Larson to make purchases without taking bids.
  • Purchases of budgeted materials, supplies or services from $2,500 to $15,000 can be made without bids. But staff has to get at least three vendor price quotes and Larson has to approve the purchase.
  • Bids and price quotes aren’t required for purchases of budgeted items that cost less than $2,500. Larson has to OK those buys.
  • Purchases of unbudgeted materials can be made by Larson with the board’s approval.

The policy also gives the DDA board the right to reject or modify all portions of competitive bids and price quotes, and select a vendor other than the lowest bidder. When there is only one supplier, a majority of the DDA board can waive the competitive nature of the bidding policy and requirements for a price quote.

“It’s very common for an organization to do this,” said Dick Wendt, DDA corporate counsel, of adopting a policy of this type.

“If I’m interested in continuing in my profession, I should follow the rules,” said Larson on why he can be trusted with this authority. He also said DDA Treasurer Jana Wallace will serve as a safeguard and can raise a red flag to a suspicious purchase or contract.

DDA member Jane Gietzen suggested the board should regularly review the policy to make sure it’s working properly.

In addition, Larson told board members that they will get a draft version of the 2014 fiscal year budget at their June meeting. He also said the spending plan will contain allocations for a few new items like showing movies downtown. Larson said the DDA has the funds to buy the equipment but needs more financial support from downtown stakeholders for operations. He also plans to continue the speaker series.

“We are trying to get creative and are going out to our partners,” he said.

“It’s not all DDA muscle and water carrying,” said DDA Chairman Brian Harris.

The board will get its first look at the budget on June 12. The DDA’s fiscal year begins on July 1. The city commission has to ratify the DDA’s budget.

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