ISLAMORADA -- The no-bid renewal of most village-held insurance policies will go before the Village Council Wednesday, Oct. 10, for formal approval.
The resolution will also retroactively authorize a $107,000 payment the administration of Village Manager Ed Koconis has made to the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust for the first quarter of the 2012-13 fiscal year. The village made that payment on Sept. 28, according to a report to council by Finance Director Maria Aguilar.
Overall, the village expects to pay premiums of $440,000 during this fiscal year to FMIT for automobile, property, general/professional and workers compensation coverage.
If the council approves the FMIT renewal, it will be the ninth time since an auditor's rebuke in March that the village has extended a contract, added on to one or awarded a new contract entirely without going through competitive bidding.
In all but one of the previous eight cases, the contract passed with unanimous Village Council support.
The Florida Auditor General's Office critiqued the village's contracting practices on two fronts in the spring, noting that no bid extensions can cost residents.
Auditors also looked at the procedures employed by the village in cases where it has waived competitive bidding requirements, concluding that explanations of such waivers should be required under village code.
The village, however, has yet to change its purchasing ordinance in response to that suggestion.
Nevertheless, the village has made a practice of providing such explanations. In the case of the FMIT insurance policies, council members informally agreed to waive competitive bidding in May at the suggestion of Aguilar. In a report to the council, Aguilar wrote that FMIT, which is administered by the Florida League of Cities, is the largest of the three insurance pools in the state that are available to small towns.
"This means the FMIT is able to provide members with a higher level of savings," she wrote.
The FMIT also provides additional service to members free or at a minimal charge, Aguilar wrote.
Some say the village has become too accustomed to awarding contracts without a competitive process.
"It is easier to take what you have then it is to go through a competitive bidding process," former Councilman Dave Boerner, a longtime critic of the practice, told the Free Press recently. "But it is the responsibility of the town to do the competitive bidding. It really is a problem."