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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 13th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 50 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 50

County changes local vendor preference policy

By CHRIS MCGUINNES

A divided Board of Supervisors approved a change to a 14-year-old policy that gave preference to local business that bid on contracts to provide supplies, equipment, and other tangible goods to Santa Barbara County.
 
Supervisors voted 3-2 at a Feb. 12 meeting to amend the county’s local vendor preference policy in a move that city staff said would make the bidding process more competitive and possibly save the county money. Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam and First District Supervisor Das Williams both opposed the amendment.
 
Under the previous policy, the county’s chief procurement officer could approve a more expensive bid for tangible goods such as supplies, material, or equipment, from a local vendor if it was up to 6 percent higher than the lowest bid from a non-local one. Under the newly passed policy, 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.
 
“The goal is to increase our bids and increase vendor competition,” Joe Toney, the county’s assistant director for general services, told supervisors at the meeting.
 
Adam said he believed the county needed to study the issue more and raised concerns that the change would actually lead to higher bids.
 
“You’ll end up paying more for stuff,” he said.
 
Williams said that he appreciated staff attempts to try and save the county money, but noted that local vendors contributed to the local economy by spending money locally and paying sales tax.
 
“If we ask people to buy local, we should probably be buying local,” Williams said. “I would like the county’s purchases to be a statement of its values.”
 
Supervisors who supported the change agreed to review the issue again in six months to see if the new policy was having the desired effect, and to give staff time to collect data and information.
 
“It’s not set in stone,” 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said.
 
Both the old and new local vendor preference policies only apply to bids on contract for tangible goods, which make up only a small fraction of the county’s total expenditures on contracts. According to data from staff, tangible goods made up an estimated $16 million of the more than $142 million the county spent on vendor contracts in fiscal year 2017-18. Of that $16 million, more than $10 million went to local vendors. m




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