Bravo to county for keeping purchase local

Published 12:11 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In almost all cases, citizens should seek for their city and county governments to spend every last dollar of taxpayer money wisely. However, there are a few exceptions where spending a “little more” will actually achieve a greater benefit, in the long run.

One of those exceptions took place at Tuesday’s meeting of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners. The county had recently taken bids on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment for the new agriculture building on Vada Road. Three responsible bids were received — the lowest was $109,737 and was made by a Tallahassee, Fla., company, while the highest was $110,749 and was made by Harrell King Heating & Air Conditioning in Bainbridge.

Ultimately, the Board of Commissioners decided to accept the bid of Harrell King, even though it was about $1,000 higher than the Tallahassee company. Studies have shown that money spent locally results in an economic “return” of between six and seven times the initial purpose. It would have been a shame for that $700,000 economic impact to have been sent to another state, just to save $1,000.

While the county’s procurement policy says that bid proposals should go to the lowest bidder, it also states, “The focus of procurement is on achieving the best overall value for Decatur County’s dollar.” In this instance, the economic impact in the long run of the county’s decision to “buy local” is definitely the best overall value, even if the initial cost is slightly higher.

We also applaud the county’s commissioners for publicly stating their desire to update their policies to allow for a “local preference bid exception” that would allow the county to always choose a local vendor, as long as that vendor’s bid is close (most similar policies are set as “within 5 percent”) to the low bid. We should all do what we can to spend money locally, and that includes our county and city governments.