SOUTHINGTON — A proposal designed to help local businesses get town work drew praise from chamber of commerce officials and local business owners Monday, but others raised concerns that the plan would discourage out-of-town bidders.
The Town Council held a public hearing on the change during Monday’s meeting.
The town's current preferred bidding ordinance allows local companies to match the lowest bid received if a Southington company's offer is within 5 percent. Under the proposal, it would increase to 10 percent, giving local companies a greater chance of matching the lowest bid on contracts between $10,000 and $500,000.
In the case of identical bids, the local company gets the job, according to the ordinance.
Interim Town Manager Mark Sciota said the change wouldn’t cost the taxpayers any more money. Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce officials agreed, saying it would boost local businesses that directly contribute to the town’s tax rolls.
“The modification of the preferred bidding ordinance has no downside to our town,” said Taylor Crofton, interim chamber executive director.
Jack Perry, owner of HQ Dumpsters & Recycling, said the preferred bidding rules would make outside companies offer more competitive bids. Perry said he bids on lots of municipal work in towns that have similar ordinances.
“I realize I have to be 11 percent cheaper, so I have to sharpen my pencil,” he said.
Brian Goralski, chairman of the Board of Education, said he’s already concerned about the lack of bidders for snow plowing. The school system doesn’t award snow removal at more than three buildings to a single company to ensure quick clearing.
“We’re not seeing enough bidders,” he said. “We do use almost exclusively Southington businesses at this time but we do need a large pool to bid.”
Goralski asked that snow plowing be exempted from the ordinance.
Brian Corbino, a town resident, was also concerned about fewer bids as a result of the proposed change. He wanted the entire ordinance scrapped, saying it discouraged out-of-town companies from bidding.
“We’re going to end up paying more for services,” he said. “All you’re doing is creating a market distortion.”
The council is expected to vote on the issue at a future meeting.