Vancouver city hall bureaucrats awarded 39 contracts worth nearly $95.5 million behind closed doors in 2015, according to the annual Procurement Report to city council.

The report also said city council approved staff recommendations to award 14 contracts worth $73.1 million.

Under the city’s 2009 procurement policy, city council approval is normally required for contracts above $2 million while Bid Committee, a changeable group of bureaucrats headed by the city manager, can award contracts up to $2 million. There is no limit on the size of contracts Bid Committee can approve when city council is on summer hiatus and neither are its meetings open or publicized. By comparison, Toronto city hall’s Bid Committee publishes the schedule for its meetings and issues the minutes shortly after each meeting.

The five biggest contracts let by Vancouver city hall in 2015 were for heavy duty fire apparatus ($33.2 million to Safetek Emergency Vehicles Ltd.); light duty vehicles ($6.35 million to Metro Motors Ltd.); landfill services ($5.6 million to Poschner Construction (88) Ltd.); excavated materials loading and hauling ($4.87 million to Mainland Demo Contracting Ltd.); and various truck body equipment ($4.25 million to Calco Equipment (BC) Ltd and Commercial Truck Equipment Co.).

The report said almost $1.7 million of contracts were sole-sourced, down from $2.03 million in 2014. A $316,000 no bid contract was the year’s biggest, awarded to Golder Associates for surface emissions monitoring at the Vancouver landfill. Golder was also given a no-bid contract for $45,000 to monitor a cormorant colony near the Burrard Bridge.

Vision Vancouver strategist and development lobbyist Bob Ransford was paid $90,000 on a no-bid contract to manage the TransLink mayors’ council’s Yes campaign in the failed transit funding plebiscite. Consultant Glenn Sigurdson received a $100,000 sole-sourced taxi industry analysis contract. Normally, contracts worth $75,000 and up must be publicly advertised for competition. Civic policy includes loopholes for urgent or unique need of goods and services.

Meanwhile, the city reported a $220.3 million surplus, after collecting $1.584 billion revenue and spending $1.363 billion.

The financial report noted a $25.1 million gain on the sale of property in Southeast False Creek; $15.5 million higher than budgeted rental, lease and other income; $10.2 million more than budgeted in licence and development fees, and $10.1 million more for parking revenue.