Southington proposes changes to help local bidders on town jobs

Southington proposes changes to help local bidders on town jobs

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SOUTHINGTON — Local leaders are likely to amend the preferred bidding ordinance to give local companies a better chance to match the lowest bid for town work.

Dawn Miceli, Town Council vice chairwoman and a Democrat, said she doesn’t feel the proposed ordinance will  cost the town more, but will help support local businesses.

Residents can voice their opinions on whether the council should support the change at a public hearing at 7 p.m., Monday at the John Weichsel Municipal Center, 196 N. Main St.

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.

“It didn’t get much use at five percent,” Miceli said of the current ordinance. “Many (towns and cities) are at 10 percent. Some are at 15 percent. I think that’s too big of a jump.”

In some instances, Miceli said local companies have declined to match the lowest bid. The ordinance at least gives them the option.

Supporting local businesses directly helps the local economy, she said.

“They, in turn, renovate their building, add on to their facilities, buy new equipment,” Miceli said. “That adds to our grand list.”

Michael Riccio, a Republican councilor, said he understood and appreciated the effort to help local businesses, but he was concerned that the ordinance change would end up costing the taxpayers more over time.

Businesses spend money to create bids, Riccio said, and if a local business can then take that bid if it’s within 10 percent, it might discourage larger companies from trying to get town work.

“If they know in Southington that whatever they bid, the local guy is going to come take it away, they may not bid,” he said. “We represent all the taxpayers, not just the businesses.”

If tempted with getting work at a 10 percent lower bid, Riccio said some local companies might take it and end up losing money. He also said the town has a host of other incentives and benefits for local companies.

“I’m still not sure it’s the right thing to do,” Riccio said of the ordinance change.

In March, the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to councilors supporting the new preferred bidder rules. “We feel it’s important for the town to support local business,” said Kate Sirignano, chairwoman of the chamber board. 

She said the change would encourage businesses to give their “most fair and honest pricing” while conferring a small advantage to local companies.

Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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