Bill Aims to Narrow Bidding Exception for City Water Tank Service Contracts

The bill would remove a special procurement option some cities use for their drinking water systems.
(Published Mar 5, 2018)

Over the past 10 years, legislation has been proposed on many occasions to remove city authority to use special procurement options when dealing with water tank maintenance for a municipal water supply. Last week, that legislation was suddenly scheduled for legislative action and passed through a committee.

HF 1975 (Rep. Bob Vogel, R-Elko New Market) was heard in the House Government Operations and Elections Committee on Feb. 27. In that hearing, the author replaced the initial bill language with an amended version drafted to address concerns raised by the League, the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers, and the American Council of Engineering Consultants. The bill was then passed to the floor of the House to await consideration for final passage.

Bill removes multiyear contract option for maintenance
The bill, as amended, removes the option of including water tank maintenance work under a multiyear professional service contract entered into through either direct negotiation or through solicitation of requests for proposal. (This is currently allowed under Minnesota Statutes, section 471.345, subdivision 5b.)

Instead, if the cost of proposed maintenance is estimated to exceed $100,000, a city would need to separately bid using either a low bid or best value bid procurement process that is required for all other city contracts.

Reasonable compromise
At the hearing, League staff explained that the League has a neutral position on the amended bill. The League explained that many cities value and use the existing option and that cities do not want to lose that option, but found the amendment to be a reasonable compromise.

The ability to enter into multiyear professional service contracts through RFP or direct negotiation was preserved in the agreement, although maintenance work exceeding $100,000 cannot be part of the contract. Requirements to protect small utilities from extreme, unexpected expenses and to have professional engineer involvement in work on public water supplies were also preserved.

Senate companion bill
The Senate companion, SF 2393 (Sen. Mark Koran, R-North Branch), has not yet been scheduled for a hearing, but action is expected during the next month. If cities have specific concerns related to this legislation, they should communicate those issues to their legislators quickly, as the bill could be passed with very little advance notice.

If you have questions or concerns about the proposed legislation, contact League IGR staff member Craig Johnson at (651) 281-1259 or

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