City Manager Bill Bell said the Montrose City Council will hear recommendations and consider an ordinance outlining changes on first reading at its April 17 meeting.
Bell is recommending a 10 percent local preference enhancement, up to a maximum benefit of $100,000, a doubling of the current 5 percent (with a maximum of $50,000).
Bell suggested at the last council meeting that businesses from adjacent counties get a 3 percent local preference, as well, with a $30,000 maximum (reduced from a $50,000 maximum).
The city approved the local preference policy in 2009, but the policy has not yet benefited any local contractor or bidder, Bell said. (Had the new recommendations been in place during that time, only one business would have benefited, he added.)
“I requested we look at this because we've never helped a local contractor, Councilor Thomas Smits said at the meeting.
Right now, should a nonlocal contractor submit the lowest bid, the city makes an adjustment, taking 5 percent off of the lowest local bid (or 3 percent off the lowest bid from an adjacent county), before comparing the bids, said Public Works Director Jim Hougnon.
If the adjusted amount is lower than the lowest non-local bid, that bidder is awarded the contract.
When draft changes to the Local Preference Incentive ordinance came before council last week, Mayor Kathy Ellis asked that the new council, which will be sworn in at the April 17 meeting, make the final decision. She voiced concern that the $100,000 bid-cap was too high, which could limit the number of projects the city would be able to complete. She further suggested that the ordinance designate local preference for projects under $10,000 —a current practice, but not a policy — and that the awarded bidder be required to use local subcontractors, whenever possible. Current policy is that local companies perform (and get paid for) no less than 51 percent of the work.
In revising the policy and coming up with suggested changes, Bell said the staff reviewed policies from other municipalities.
Montrose County does not have a formal local preference policy, according to county officials, but it does use a point evaluation system in reviewing requests for proposals and points are included for local vendor status.