The Mineola school district has agreed to improve the way it conducts purchases under $20,000 after a state comptroller’s audit found district officials didn’t always get competitive price quotes.
District officials had not developed and enforced written procedures for obtaining competitive quotes for goods and services not subject to competitive bidding, according to the report released Friday by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office.
“They do not have adequate assurance that the district is receiving the best price for the items it purchases,” the auditors noted.
Mineola schools Superintendent Michael Nagler and school board president Christine Napolitano, in a letter dated Jan. 29 agreed with auditors’ recommendations to develop written procedures on no-bid spending.
The district operates five schools, serving 2,671 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the New York State Education Department’s website. Its operating budget for 2015-16 is $89.6 million.
During the 2014-15 fiscal year, district officials made $685,193 in purchases from 67 vendors that were between $5,000 and $19,000. Auditors reviewed the highest dollar purchases made from each of the 23 highest-paid vendors, totaling $226,353, and found district officials failed to get competitive quotes from 10 of those vendors. The amount of district funds paid to those 10 vendors totaled $106,952.
In one example cited in the report, when auditors asked about competition, district officials provided a sole source letter from one music equipment vendor on a $15,000 piano purchase.
While municipal law requires advertising for competitive bids on purchase contracts of more than $20,000, the board should have a written policy on competitive bids under that amount, also known as no-bid purchases. The policy should indicate when district officials must obtain price quotes, outline the method used to determine the vendor and provide adequate documentation of the actions taken, according to auditors.
In their response to the comptroller’s office, district officials said they received verbal quotes on pianos from three companies and received a credit for an old piano, which no other vendor would accommodate. As for the other 10 purchases noted in the report, there was an explanation for each but the district was remiss in attaching supporting documentation, they said.
“However, rest assured that due diligence was taken before any of the purchases were made,” district officials wrote in their response letter.