Supplier Guide

We appreciate your interest in doing business with the City of Bellingham, Washingt​on. We hope you will find this guide helpful in your business experience with the City. We strive to obtain the best quality, service, and price, while promoting good relationships, which are beneficial to the City and its suppliers. Should you have any questions or require additional information, please contact us at the telephone number provided below.

  • Provide City Departments and employees the highest level of purchasing service,
  • Achieve maximum value for dollar spent,
  • Provides fair and equal access for suppliers interested in doing business with the City,
  • Provides a level of fiscal control by issuing Purchase Orders and City Contracts,
  • Ensures conditions of City purchase orders and City contracts are met by suppliers performing under those conditions.

The City of Bellingham Purchasing Office comprises the Purchasing Manager, a Lead Buyer, two additional Buyers, and two Contract Specialists. 

The Purchasing Office hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding City holidays. Suppliers are encouraged to schedule appointments. You may schedule an appointment by calling 360-778-7750.

Suppliers are encouraged to forward product and service literature to the City of Bellingham, Attn: Purchasing, 2221 Pacific Street, Bellingham, WA 98229. 

Please make the Purchasing Office your first contact. If consultation with other Departments is desired, the Purchasing Office will arrange interviews between the supplier’s representatives and other City Departments. No one else outside the Purchasing Office can issue a City Purchase Order to purchase equipment and/or supplies over $10,000. Do not deliver any equipment and/or supplies without a purchase order number or City contract.

On the City’s website, under the Purchas​ing Off​ice section, suppliers can register for automatic notification of bid/quote offerings. Suppliers are strongly encouraged to check the “Current Opportunities” section on a regular basis for opportunities to provide bids or quotes to the City.  

The City of Bellingham purchasing activity is divided into three categories:

  •  Public Works Projects
  •  Services (Professional and Non-professional)
  •  Materials, Supplies & Equipment 

Public Works is all work, construction, alteration, repair or improvement that the City performs. Some examples of Public Works are listed below, but are not limited to:

  • Demolition
  • Remodeling
  • Renovation
  • Maintenance
  • Painting 
  • Road Construction  
  • Utilities Construction 
  • Offsite prefabrication of ducts, liners and certain steel products
  • Production and delivery of sand, gravel, rock, concrete and asphalt

The City uses written contracts to secure public works.

An alternative to the formal bid processing called the Small Works Roster process may be used on Public Works projects up to $350,000.00. The process is the same as the formal bid process other than there is no advertisement required or Council approval and only suppliers on the small works roster are eligible to bid on the project.  

The City of Bellingham uses the Municipal Research Search Service Center (MRSC) shared small works and consultant services rosters. To be eligible to work on small public works projects or consultant services with the City of Bellingham, please register your company at

Questions on the new roster? Call 206-625-1300 or email Questions for Purchasing at the City of Bellingham? Call 360-778-7750 or email

Suppliers are required to be licensed by the State of Washington and provide references.

Prevailing Wages: Chapter 39.12 RCW is the Washington Public Works Act. This law requires workers be paid certain hourly wages for all public work and public service maintenance contracts, no matter what the dollar amount.  ​

Procurement of services is accomplished by the solicitation of proposals. A Request for Proposal (RFP) and sometimes a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is conducted.  

City departments may use this service roster (see above for shared services roster) for specific types of services.

Requests for Proposals for services will be published in the Bellingham Herald and posted on the City’s website. Publication may also be made in out-of-town or out-of-state publications and/or trade journals. Services costing less than $10,000.00 require only one written quote/proposal. City purchase orders or contracts are required for all services.

Living wage: The City has a living wage program that requires certain services to be paid at a pre-determined hourly wage established by the City. Criteria for the program are:

  • Contract must be for more than $10,000 in a twelve (12) – month period.
  • Employees must be full time and must be over the age of 17.
  • Employees must be non-union
  • Contractor must have 4 or more employees
  • Contractor must have been in business for more than one year. Non-profit organizations are excluded.
  • Must be in one of the following categories:
  • Automotive repair and maintenance
  • Facility and building maintenance
  • Janitorial and custodial
  • Landscaping
  • Laundry
  • Office & clerical
  • Parking lot management
  • Pest control services
  • Recreation
  • Resident & day shelter
  • Security services
  • Shuttle transportation
  • Street & sidewalk cleaning
  • Towing

The City of Bellingham purchases a wide variety of equipment and supplies every year. Among the items purchased are:

  • Vehicles-cars and trucks
  • Computer hardware
  • Software
  • Weapons
  • Ammunition
  • Fire Hose
  • Office Equipment
  • Communications Equipment
  • Furniture
  • Traffic Signs
  • Audio/Visual Equipment
  • Lawn Maintenance Equipment
  • Chemicals
  • Carpet
  • Window coverings
  • Copiers
  • Hand Tools
  • Power Tools
  • Law Enforcement Equipment
  • Books

The following methods of purchasing are utilized:

  • Purchases under $10,000.00 City Departments are authorized to make purchases of goods up to $10,000.00 without a purchase order. Purchases of services typically require a city contract. No competitive bidding is required. The supplier should verify the person’s employment with the City by identification card or phone call to the employee’s department. Equipment and/or supplies must be picked up by the employee or delivered to a City facility or work site and employee’s name and department must appear on the invoice. Please note that employees using City-issued procurement cards or using Petty Cash may make some purchases in this method.
  • Purchases between $10,001 and $45,000 require three (3) written quotations.
  • Purchases of $45,000 may require sealed bids/proposals. Bid information is posted on the City’s official website. The bids are advertised in the Bellingham Herald newspaper and, possibly, other publications. A formal bid date and time is established. The Purchasing Department conducts a public opening of the bids/proposals.

All purchases over $10,000 charged to the City require a purchase order or City contract. If an individual calls and attempts to place an order over $10,000, you are cautioned to request an authorized purchase order or City contract and obtain the name and department of the individual. Invoices over $10,000 must cite the purchase order or City contract. A purchase order is your assurance that you will be paid. ​

Exception: There may be times during an emergency when an order must be placed after normal business hours or on weekends. Be assured that true emergency purchases at such times without purchase order or City contract will be approved. You must obtain the individual’s name and department and request identification if the order is placed in person. Department personnel are instructed to obtain a purchase order or City contract from the Purchasing Office the following workday. The employee who places the order will send you an authorized purchase order or City contract as soon as possible.

Written specifications are used in the bidding process to describe the required level of quality, quantity, delivery and scope of work. A bid form will accompany the specifications outlining certain terms and conditions governing City purchases. Specifications prepared by City departments are reviewed by the Purchasing Office to eliminate undue restrictions and other limitations, which unnecessarily reduce competition. The purchase will be made from the lowest responsive, responsible bidder meeting the specifications.

Suppliers may expend considerable time and money presenting a product or service to an individual City department in the hopes of being awarded a contract. Remember the purchase will likely be made by competitive bid, and the cost for design, demonstrations and layouts will not guarantee an order. Any assistance a supplier offers a department in developing specifications cannot be considered when the City makes the purchase. If you are called upon to provide expensive pre-bid services, you should consider contracting separately with the department for this service.  

Bids and proposals will contain detailed terms and conditions, along with special terms and conditions pertaining to the specific bid or proposal. Suppliers are advised to carefully read and understand the terms and conditions.

Shipment is to be made to the City of Bellingham Freight On Board (F.O.B.) Destination. Requirements for delivery are specified on all quotes, bids and purchase orders. Failure to meet the specified date may cause cancellation of the order. Variations from the specifications may make a shipment subject to rejection.

Quote and bid results are matters of public record. Quote and bid information can be obtained by accessing the City’s website.

Purchase orders may be used to contract with a supplier. Any changes to the purchase order are not valid unless the City approves the change in writing.

The City requires a supplier to provide an invoice. The purchase order or City contract number must appear on all invoices, shipping tags, and all correspondence relevant to the order.

Payment is made after delivery and acceptance of the equipment and/or supplies as specified on the purchase order or City contract. Unless otherwise specified on the purchase order or City contract, invoices should be submitted to the department requesting the item.

Questions regarding payment should be made to the department requesting the item. You will need to reference the purchase order or City contract and invoice numbers when calling with questions.

In all instances in which supplier personnel enter City property to repair, install, service, construct, consult, etc., the City requires a certificate of insurance verifying coverage per City insurance requirements. Whenever insurance is required, the supplier will be notified of the requirements for coverage. Contact the Legal Department if you need further information on insurance requirements.

Suppliers located in the City of Bellingham, performing services within the city limits, or delivering products are required to have a City business license. You can obtain your business license at or contact the City of Bellingham Finance Department at 360-778-8010.

The City maintains a strict policy prohibiting employees from accepting gifts and/or gratuities from any supplier or potential supplier. Suppliers are requested to cooperate by not making offers of gifts and/or gratuities to employees.

  • Prior to submitting a bid, carefully read all the bid/quote specifications, including the terms and conditions and instructions to bidders. 
  • Include everything that is required in your bid/quote package. Examples are descriptive literature,​ cost worksheets, delivery schedules, or bonds.
  • Mail or deliver your bid sufficiently in advance of the bid closing date and time to ensure timely receipt. Bids received after the closing date and time will not be opened or considered. The City is not responsible for US mail, UPS, FedEx, etc. deliveries.
  • If you are awarded a contract, be certain that you comply with all City contracting requirements.

We look forward to doing business with you. We are interested in your thoughts and concerns about the City’s purchasing process. Supplier feedback is valued. Please feel free to write or call with your comments or questions. When we conduct business with you, it is our desire to conclude each transaction in a respectful, fair and professional manner. We hope this guide has helped you to better understand the City’s procurement processes.


Public Works
Purchasing Main Office
2221 Pacific Street
Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: (360) 778-7750
Fax: (360) 778-7701
7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Mon – Fri​​​​​​​