Livin la vida local
Sometimes, things can get a little crazy when it comes to the issue of governments offering a preference for local companies.
The Daily Sentinel has long argued that it makes sense for area governments to purchase local goods and services whenever possible because the tax money going to local businesses will mostly stay in the region and help the entire community. But local governments also have a critical fiduciary duty to their taxpayers. Hence the requirement for most local governments that when they solicit bids on a project, they must accept the lowest bid unless there are extenuating circumstances.
In the Main Street redevelopment project, FCI Constructors of Grand Junction was awarded the contract by the City Council Wednesday night because its bid was $2.31 million, compared to $2.39 million for Sorter Construction, the next low bidder. The extenuating circumstance in this case is the fact that FCI is planning to use two out-of-area subcontractors to perform a small percentage of the work.
That prompted a petition from some local citizens and business owners, demanding that the city require all subcontractors on the Main Street project be from Mesa County.
This is an interesting demand, coming from a community where a majority of people profess to believe in minimal government intrusion into the free market. Yet, in this instance, some of those people want city government to micromanage who a bidder can choose for subcontractors.
That’s hardly a free-market approach, and it isn’t wise policy. Those who do business with the city should have the right and the ability to hire subcontractors whom they believe will allow them to complete the project in the most cost-effective, capable manner.
We have said previously that the city may want to consider some type of local preference in bidding. Other cities have them, usually allowing local businesses a small percentage advantage over bidders from outside the community. But, if that were done here, it shouldn’t include a mandate on who bidders may choose as subcontractors.
FCI Constructors is a local company that met all of the requirements of the bid process and submitted the lowest bid. The City Council did the right thing in awarding the contract to FCI.