Grand County puts local preference policy in writing
July 10, 2008
Grand County’s push to “hire locally” is now in black and white.
“Local-preference” language has become standard in county bid documents.
The county policy states that if a bid from a local business “is up to 5 percent greater than any other bid, it may be considered the lower bid.”
The county also “reserves the right to reject any and all bids.”
Thus, local contractors bidding on county projects may be selected, even if their bids are higher.
The need for clarification came about when the county recently rejected a lower bid submitted by an out-of-town contractor and instead selected a higher bid from a local contractor. The difference between the two bids was $15,000.
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County commissioners made a last-minute rejection of staff’s recommendation on the bid for resurfacing roads. After the decision, the county was criticized for not having a local-preference policy on all bid documents.
Although local contractors might find the language beneficial, non-local contractors that do a large amount of work in the area may find the rule incomplete.
Jeff Gross, senior estimator of New West Paving of Denver, says the rule has the potential to be unfair to taxpayers if it doesn’t have a project-price cap.
“For a half-million dollar job, (locals) can be $25,000 higher and still get the project,” he said. “It’s just costing the taxpayers more money.”
Gross suggests the 5 percent preference standard only be applied to projects, say, $5,000 or less.
County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran says a cap is unnecessary due to the nature of contract language.
County commissioners can still consider the merit of each bid individually and make decisions accordingly, she said.
For Grand County, the local preference rule is not far from what the county was already doing, said County Commissioner Gary Bumgarner.
“It was an unwritten rule anyway,” he said, “it just wasn’t memorialized in writing.”
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