The City of Hays is looking at updating it’s purchasing policy, which has had only minor revisions since it was adopted 16 years ago.

Minor changes to the policy were made in 2007 and 2008, with new changes now being requested by City Manager Toby Dougherty.

The changes would increase some of the authorized spending limits for various city employees, as well as make it easier for city staff to hire a company to make a service call without getting three quotes when equipment breaks down and needs fixed right away.

Dougherty made the presentation Thursday at the work session of the Hays City Commission in the commission room at City Hall, 1507 Main St.

Hays City Commissioners will decide whether to make the changes at their regular meeting Thursday at City Hall. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

Policy changes requested include:

— Increase from $500 to $1,000 the limit for ProCard purchases by division superintendents.

— Increase from $1,500 to $5000 the limit for purchases by department heads, which are reviewed by the finance director, the assistant city manager and the city manager.

— Increase from $15,000 to $25,000 the purchasing authority of the city manager.

“Everything above $25,000 would require a formal competitive bid,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty is also asking to add a new section called “Service Calls,” which he said essentially codifies what city employees are already doing.

“The way the purchasing policy is currently written it makes it difficult,” he said. “I’ll give you an example of a service call. If we have a well at the Schoenchen well field that just stops working, we’re not sure if it’s the pump, if it’s the motor or if it’s a combination of both, or really what’s wrong with it, and we have to call somebody like Layne Western to look at it.”

According to the purchasing policy, he said, the city must get three quotes from different suppliers, but companies don’t want to provide quotes when they don’t know what’s wrong yet.

Usually, city staff call a company to look at the problem, and if an immediate repair is needed they ask the service provider to fix it on the spot. Otherwise, quotes are solicited.

“The only question I had is you made the comment that you decided ahead of time the company you’re going to use, how did you decide that?” Asked City Commissioner Sandy Jacobs.

Different department’s will choose a service provider to call, due to a supplier servicing a particular territory, if they are the sole source of the equipment or service, or brand compatibility.

“Do you ever have any other companies come back and ask about that?” Jacobs asked.

“Not really,” Dougherty said.

City Commissioner Henry Schwaller said it’s not clear in the policy what a service call is for essential city services.

“To me a service call is a situation where you’re calling a professional out but you’re not really sure what the problem is,” Dougherty said.

Also requested to change is the authority to buy budgeted vehicles and equipment purchased via state and federal award contracts, as approved by the city manager, if local vendors who offer the vehicles or equipment can’t match the contract price.