City OKs ‘local bid’ ordinance

Published 6:11 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Bainbridge City Council has adopted new rules that will potentially give local businesses an edge when they offer bids on goods or services requested by the city government.

At their Tuesday meeting, the City Council unanimously approved a local bid preference similar to one recently passed by the City of Albany.

The new rules will allow a local vendor to match the low bid, should that bid be within two percent of the lowest bid submitted. If the local vendor chooses not to match the lowest bid, the bid would then be awarded to the original low bidder.

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In order to take advantage of the local preference, bidders have to maintain an office or place of business in Decatur County, have at least two employees, and hold a current Occupational Tax Certificate issued by Bainbridge or Decatur County.

Additionally, in order to take advantage of the preference, a local bidder cannot be delinquent on Bainbridge and Decatur County property taxes.

Diane Strickland, president of the Chamber of Commerce, spoke in support of the local bid preference, saying it would give local businesses “opportunities for growth.” Strickland said she believed local businesses deserved that advantage, since they pay taxes and employ local citizens.

Councilman Luther Conyers asked if a local business could hypothetically match the low bid submitted by a non-local company, why wouldn’t they just bid the lower amount in the first place?

“I understand what you’re saying, they should give the best bid they can at the time of bidding,” Mayor Edward Reynolds said.

Although she voted for passing the local bid preference for a one-year trial, City Councilwoman Glennie Bench said she had a concern.

“As a businesswoman myself, I believe a local bid preference reduces competition over time,” Bench said. “When you reduce competition, [local governments’] costs go up, which leads to higher taxes.”

Bench said she hoped city staff will track the cost of enforcing the ordinance, as well as the number of times the local bid preference comes into play.


Other Business

In other business, the council unanimously approved a low speed motor vehicle ordinance that, among other stipulations, will prohibit anyone under the age of 15 from operating a golf cart, ATV or similar vehicle within city limits.

The council also unanimously passed an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance to define under what circumstances solar energy arrays may be permitted within city limits.

Representatives from Hannah Solar, an Atlanta-based solar power company that already partnered with several local farmers on solar power generators, also spoke before the City Council. They said they are interested in building multiple solar arrays in the area that would provide surplus electricity to companies like Georgia Power.