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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 5th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 49

Supervisors mull changes to local vendor bid policy

By CHRIS MCGUINNES

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is mulling a proposal to amend the county’s local vendor preference policy.

The policy, which has been in place for nearly 14 years, allows the county to take higher bids for tangible goods if the vendor is local. According to county staff, the proposed amendment would not end the local preference policy but would change the bidding process to make it more competitive for everyone, including out-of-area vendors.

“Our effort is really to maximize the amount of competition and have as many bids as possible,” Joe Toney, the county’s assistant director for general services, told members of the board at a Jan. 29 meeting.

Under the current policy, the county’s chief procurement officer can approve a more expensive bid for tangible goods from a non-local vendor if it is up to 6 percent higher than the lowest bid from a non-local vendor. While the preference policy has been seldom used, a city staff report raised concerns that the policy may be a disincentive for non-local vendors to offer bids.

“We’ve heard from some outside vendors that they don’t even take the opportunity to bid because they can’t beat that 6 percent margin,” Toney said.

Under the proposed amendment, if the lowest bid is non-local, and a local vendor has a higher bid that is within the 6 percent margin, the local vendor would be given an opportunity to match the non-local vendor’s bid price within 72 hours. According to Toney, both Kern and Solano counties use a similar process.

Despite the claims that the proposed change would increase the number of bids and create more competition, several members of the board said they had concerns. Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam said he worried the change could lead to vendors bidding less, or even inflating prices.

“If you’re not careful, what you’ll get is a bunch of fake prices,” he said.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino also said that he found the proposed new process troublesome because it would essentially re-open bids.

“I don’t like it,” he said. “I like that we have the built-in 6 percent, but going back out [to bid] is problematic.”

Andy Caldwell, executive director for the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business of Santa Barbara County, also asked the board to continue to support local vendors who help keep money in the local economy.

“They are paying property tax here, they are paying wages here, and most importantly, they are paying sales tax here,” he said.

In the end, the board did not make any decision on the proposal. Instead they voted to push the item to their Feb. 12 regular meeting.




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