Year-End Municipal Update
The new year brings with it new laws impacting municipal entities in 2019.
Public Bidding Thresholds
Prior to 2012, the thresholds for which public bidding was required had not been adjusted for quite some time. Bids of some sort (whether formal or telephonic) were needed for all purchases in excess of $4,000.00. Act 90 of 2011 raised that amount to $10,000.00 as of January 1, 2012 and provided for annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has released public bidding thresholds for municipalities and authorities effective January 1, 2019. Those thresholds are:
- Purchases and contracts below $11,100 require no formal bidding or quotations.
- Purchases and contracts between $11,100 and $20,600 require three quotations, which may be written or telephonic.
- Purchases and contracts over $20,600 require formal bidding.
- This reflects a 2.3% increase from the 2018 public bidding thresholds.
Sunshine Act Amendment
In October, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 156 into law. Act 156 amends the Sunshine Act to allow a public agency to hold an executive session to discuss emergency preparedness and public safety matters that, if discussed in public, would be reasonably likely to jeopardize or threaten public safety or public protection.
In other municipal news, a number of bills that have been closely watched have died as the 2017-2018 legislative session came to an end without action. Notably, House Bill 1531, which would have revamped the Sunshine Act to require stricter notice requirements for public agency business has fizzled. Likewise, House Bill 2564, which aimed to impose strict timelines and fee limits on applications for small cell wireless facilities and proposed limitations on local governments with respect to the regulations of such facilities in public rights of way has also died. However, the Wireless Infrastructure Order, which addresses similar matters relating to small cell wireless facilities on a federal level, was adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in September and remains in play, pending appeal by several cities across the country.
Attorney Sarah Murray is a real estate and municipal lawyer, serving as Solicitor to municipalities large and small in the Lehigh Valley region.