Bidding rules limit Amendment 54 effect

A constitutional amendment Colorado voters narrowly approved in November that sanctions companies receiving no-bid public contracts will affect a small number of firms, according to officials from the Grand Valley’s three largest government entities.

Amendment 54, passed in November, forbids companies, company officials and their immediate family members from making contributions to candidates or other political campaigns during and for two years after receiving a sole-source contract.

The prohibitions also apply to firms that receive competitive bid contracts when fewer than three companies bid.

The provisions of Amendment 54 also bar unions involved in collective bargaining on behalf of employees.

Dan Frank, purchasing agent for the Mesa County Purchasing Department, said any project worth $15,000 is required to go out for bid. Any project worth $2,000 or more has to involve competitive quotes from companies, Frank said.

“Sometimes if it’s a large project and complicated, we’ll have a written Q&A period,” he said.

Frank said the county has exceptions when “public safety or life or property is at stake,” such as in the case of a guardrail on a busy road needing replacement.

The city of Grand Junction and School District 51 have purchasing and bidding policies similar to those of the county.

“There is a policy that basically specifies that we do bid for services,” said Jeff Kirtland, spokesman for School District 51.

He said everything from the company that provides pizza for school cafeterias to a roof project at Orchard Mesa Middle School to school construction has to be bid.

“Anything over $10,000 has to be bid,” Kirtland said.

He said only a few items, including electrical rates, are not put out for bid.

Sam Rainguet, spokeswoman for the city of Grand Junction, said city policy is similar, including exceptions in the event of an emergency.

Amendment 54’s victory at the polls could be cut short, though. Tom Lucero, the chairman of the campaign behind the amendment, said his legal team is preparing for a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Amendment 54.

“It is yet to be challenged, but our attorneys are trying to work through some documents,” Lucero said. “The assumption is that they’re going to file.”


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