Bidding Requirement Clarified For Fire Protection Districts
May 5, 2014
The Illinois Fire Protection District Act has been amended to explicitly require competitive bidding for contracts in excess of $20,000, as well as necessary notice and advertising requirements for the bidding process. While the amendment applies to most contracts over $20,000, unless exempt, the amendment was originally proposed to clarify that construction projects had to be competitively bid. With this amendment Fire Protection Districts are now required to bid construction projects over $20,000 just like cities, counties and park districts. The enabling clauses in the Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/8-9-12), the Counties Code (55 ILCS 5/5-1022) and the Park Code (70 ILCS 1205/8-1(c)), all require their respective public bodies to bid construction projects over $20,000. Before Senate Bill 3427, the Fire Protection District Act (70 ILCS 705/0.01 et. seq.) did not contain this language, which had led to a split of opinion on whether Fire Protection Districts were exempt, unlike other public entities, from bidding construction projects over $20,000.
Senate Bill 3427 passed the Illinois House of Representatives on Friday, May 23, 2014 by a vote of 111 to 0 (SB 3427). The amendment does not require the Fire Protection District's Board of Trustees to accept the lowest bid if the bid does not meet specifications, terms of delivery, quality or service requirements. The amendment exempts certain kinds of contracts not subject to competitive bidding, such as contracts hiring an engineer or attorney, contracts for computer and internet connections as well as sole source contracts. It also exempts emergency expenditures from competitive bidding if the Board votes to waive the bidding by a ¾ majority of the members of the Board.
Now that both houses of the Illinois legislature have passed the bill, it is headed to the Governor for approval.