WASHINGTON — Saying city staff knows how it spends the public's money, Washington's city administrator wants to give them more authority to do so.

City Administrator Ray Forsythe says such a move would not only reflect the current costs of goods and services but also would change what he calls the cumbersome and out-of-date way of doing business.

"This new structure will make the day-to-day operations of the city go more smoothly," he said at a committee meeting of the City Council on Monday.

Forsythe proposes increasing the spending authority of supervisors and others so all things don't land on his desk. These are the spending approval limits for budgeted items:


Supervisors: $1,499.99
Department heads: $4,999.99
City administrator: $14,999.99

Currently, the administrator must present quotations of more than $5,000 to the City Council for approval. Also, Forsythe must have at least two quotations for any purchase of more than $500.

Department heads, the public works manager and deputy police chief now can approve expenditures of up to $1,000. Public Works Department supervisors can approve expenditures of up to $500.

"Since my April 15 start date, I've been routinely asked ... to approve budgeted expenditures of more than $1,000 and there have been several budgeted items of more than $5,000 that had to go to the City Council for approval," Forsythe said.

"This process — and a requirement for quotes and bidding that is confusing to staff and has been inconsistently applied — takes time away from more important work," he said.

A standardized system for soliciting phone and written quotations and sealed bids would be set up under his plan. Purchases below $15,000 would be presented only at committee meetings, not at council meetings.

"Some quotations have written on a legal pad or back of a napkin," Forsythe said. "We need to put together forms for that."

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.