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County Commission Communications
A Periodic Column Written by Ed Douglas, Presiding Commissioner

March, 2015

Our County Commission has recently had several discussions about the importance of buying locally. In January, we had bids on a product and service, one bid from a non-local firm that currently supplied the service, and another bid from a local firm. The bids were nearly identical, and the other firm had given us good service. But we, as a Commission, felt that it was important to do business with local firms, so we awarded the bid to the firm with the local office.

Shortly after this in February, Todd, Ken, and I attended a commissioner training in Columbia, and we had the opportunity to ask several other counties if they had any kind of bidding policy or plan to offer a preference to local firms. Several of the counties we talked to did have such a plan. When we came back, we visited with counsel and determined that that it was reasonable and legal to offer a preference to local firms.

Here is an example of our concern. Bids come in for a product or service I will call product XYZ. There are two bids - one for $10,000 from a non-local firm and the other for $10,100 from local firm. We don't think it is in the best interests of our county to award this bid to the non-local firm for that small of difference. Everything else being equal, we believe we are better served to award this to the local firm.

Consequently, our Commission passed a motion that allows us to offer a preference to a local bid of up to 5% above a non-local bid if we so choose. This condition would be spelled out into future bid packages.

We believe this is important for a number of reasons. First, as elected officials, we believe our job is to serve the people of this county. Our very existence is dependent on the prosperity of our county. Additionally, local firms and people pay the majority of the taxes that allows us to offer the services we have. Finally, these same local people are our neighbors and friends who support each other by their purchases as well as the many community projects and activities and fundraisers that they are involved in to help our community grow and prosper.

I am pleased that the Commission chose to pass this motion. I am a firm believer in the old saying that "a rising tide lifts all ships", and I believe by helping our friends and neighbors (our local people), we help our county.

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