Small purchase limit raised

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By John Barnhart

    Bedford County staff now have more room to make small purchases without going through the sealed bid process. The supervisors voted unanimously, Monday night,  to raise the small purchase limit from $30,000 to $50,000.
    According to Deputy County Administrator Frank Rogers, the $30,000 limit was set in 2002. He said state law allows the limit to be as high as $100,000.
    The supervisors also set their legislative priorities for the coming General Assembly session. One calls for a review of the Department of Environmental Quality’s dam safety regulations. Another, introduced by District 4 Supervisor John Sharp, asks the General Assembly to allow school staff to carry firearms in the school.
    Sharp would like enabling legislation that would create a local option under which localities could authorize school personnel, who have concealed weapons permits, to carry a concealed firearm in school. School personnel would also have to undergo special training before they could be armed in the school.
    “I’d like to put a little more authority in local hands,” Sharp said.
    The supervisors supported this by a 6-1 vote, with District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard casting the dissenting vote.
    The supervisors also agreed to change their rules on the election of chairman and vice chairman each year. For several years, they have used a rotation, with the current year’s vice chairman becoming next year’s chairman. The vice chairman is also selected on a rotation and the votes for chairman and vice chairman are a formality. Sharp, who is currently vice chairman, suggested that system be scrapped and the chairman and vice chairman be elected without a rotation.
    Pollard brought up the issue of a career staffed ambulance being moved from the Montvale Rescue Squad crew hall. The captain of the Montvale Rescue squad had spoken at the Oct. 15 supervisors meeting asking that the ambulance be removed following a dispute over it being locked when the Montvale crew tried  to use it.
    “I don’t think it’s right to move it to Bedford,” Pollard said. “I want to see that truck back.”
    According to County Administrator Mark Reeter, the core problem is that county-owned ambulances have been guests at rescue squad crew halls. There have been no written agreements. He also said that where county owned ambulances are based is currently up to Bedford County Fire and Rescue Chief Jack Jones.
    Rogers noted that Jones was asked to move the ambulance and, without an agreement, had no choice but to move it.
    “We don’t have anything that authorizes us to act on the board’s behalf,” Rogers said.
    Board Chairman Steve Arrington suggested that a policy be brought back to the supervisors for discussion. Reeter added that the policy should also define the latitude the county’s chief of fire and rescue has over allocating county owned ambulances.