Collier County opens up bidding process to more local businesses!
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By I.M. STACKEL
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Unhappy with news they’ve received about how services and products are bid out and purchased, Collier County commissioners not only instituted a local vendor preference ordinance Tuesday but instructed Purchasing Director Steve Carnell to bid out all county needs.
That would lead to thousands of transactions, rather than the hundreds with which he currently deals, Carnell protested.
Perhaps, said Commissioner Donna Fiala.
“But, it might give some of these people who have never bid, a chance to bid,” Fiala said.
Commissioner Jim Coletta agreed.
“It’s going to be an education outreach. I think Commissioner Fiala hit the nail right on the head,” Coletta said.
Carnell said local vendors get the “majority” of county contracts, later giving the number as about 47 percent.
The local vendor preference policy passed on a 3-2 vote with commissioners Frank Halas and Fred Coyle dissenting.
Halas said he liked the purchasing process as it stood.
“We have a process in place today that addresses the concerns of local businesses,” Halas said. “My concern is that taxpayers receive fair value for their tax dollars and that there’s free enterprise. Who knows the county better than local businesses?”
Coyle had his own reasons for voting against the resolution.
“I feel very uneasy about this preference policy,” Coyle said, recalling that the county couldn’t even find local bidders 10 years ago. The county needs to define “local,” he said.
“It is difficult to define what is a local business. If we’re gonna shut everyone out who is outside of Collier County, I don’t believe we have enough bidders in Collier County,” Coyle said. “I would prefer to make sure that the bidding process is clear and fair and let anyone who is qualified to bid on these contracts.”
Commissioner Tom Henning protested that any contract under $50,000 doesn’t apply to the existing policy.
Carnell said while the county doesn’t put those contracts out for formal bids, it does have an informal bid process by which it contacts vendors and alerts them to a contract up for grabs.
The county’s productivity committee will meet next week to audit past purchases, including a $10,000 circular glass reception desk that was not bid out and is now sitting in storage.
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