Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Every dollar counts!

Saving every dollar of your tax dollars is important. 

At last night's City Council meeting, I pulled an item off the consent calendar dealing with approval of a revised contract for the company that provides software services and credit card processing for the City of San Mateo's Parks and Recreation Department for online registration of recreation programs such as swimming, dancing, art, etc.

Since 1995 the City of San Mateo has contracted with the company "Active Network" to provide the software to handle online registrations.  The software "Active" provides has been user friendly, and the rate charged the City for the service has been reasonable.  

Up until this year, the City of San Mateo handled the credit card processing for online registration in-house, utilizing the City's computers to process credit card transactions.  However staff decided to make all our credit card information was as secure as possible, and to therefore allow Active to take over the collection and storage of credit card processing.  It is a decision I fully support, and City staff are to be commended for their work. 

However, in reviewing the staff report, I noticed two things:

1)  Although the City has been loyal cutomers with Active since 1995, Active was asking for an increase of 25% in fee.  This increase in fees means an additional $23,500 per year in fees for this service.  

2)  City staff did not open the new contract process to competitive bidding. 

During my time on the Council, I have been consistent in my belief that an open bidding process is important because it not only ensures a quality product through solicitation of bids from a variety of companies, it also uses market forces to help drive down the cost of services.  The result is savings of your tax dollars. 
I am happy to report that based on my request, the Council voted to continue the matter to give time for staff to look into a competitive bidding process, while ensuring that the public is not adversely affected by any disruption to online registration of recreation services. 

You will not read about it in the newspapers, and it won't be on the nightly television news.  the amount of $23,500 may not even seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things.  But if you saved $23,500 on ten contracts, you would save $235,000.  It all adds up.  And it took less than 10 minutes of Council meeting time to make sure we are spending your tax dollars wisely. 

I will continue to advocate for responsible spending wherever possible.  

To watch video of last night's meeting and the above item, click HERE and watch Item # 9.

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