The City Council may tip the scales further toward local businesses when it comes to awarding city contracts.
At its Monday meeting, the council is expected to consider whether to increase its local bidder preference from 5 percent to 10 percent.
That means a local business’ bid on a city contract could be as much as 10 percent higher than the low bid if the low bidder is an out-of-town business.
Local bidder preference is a common practice. Houston County allows 3 percent, and Perry allows local businesses to match the low bid if the local bidder is within 7 percent.
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The council discussed the issue at a recent pre-council meeting, and some members expressed reservations. Councilman Clifford Holmes said he supports local businesses, but he said 10 percent is too much.
“I will tell you right now I am opposed to that,” he said. “I’m not in favor in giving 10 percent to locals to beat our behinds.”
However, he said later that he might support an increase if there was a limit on the amount of a contract that would be eligible. Other council members who supported the increase also said they would be in favor of a limit.
Kim Demoonie, the city’s purchasing manager, cited as one example a contract in which the city purchased 10 police cars for $360,000.
“If you give the local 10 percent, that’s $36,000,” she said. “You could buy another car for that.”
Councilman Chuck Shaheen, who proposed increasing the local preference, said the council would have discretion in exercising it.
“I think it’s important to promote local business,” he said.
Councilman Keith Lauritsen said he would not necessarily want to allow 10 percent in every circumstance.
“There are times where this would be appropriate and times where it would not be appropriate,” he said.
Council members also expressed support for the idea of allowing local vendors to match the low bid.
Demoonie said she checked with the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and was told a 5 percent local preference is the highest across the state. Several cities and counties offer no local preference.
The item was on the agenda for a vote at the June 6 council meeting, but members decided to postpone the vote until the next meeting.