County considers a ‘buy local’ preference policy

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Should local governments show a preference to local suppliers when they seek bids even when that bid will cost taxpayers more?
That question will be discussed by the Swift County Policy Committee after the issue was debated at the county board of commissioners meeting May 6.
Commissioners were considering bids for pick-up trucks for the Parks, Drainage & Wetlands Department and the highway department. Among the bidders, Nolan Baker Ford of Kerkhoven was the only Swift County car dealer on the list. The others were from Montevideo and Morris.
On the parks truck, Nolan Baker’s bid was $458 higher than the one submitted by Valu Ford of Morris. On the highway truck, Nolan Baker’s bid was $2,267 higher.

Highway Department Pick-up replacement
Valu Ford    Morris    $26,394
Nolan Baker    Kerk    $26,852    + $458
Parkview     Monte    $27,236    + $842

Parks, Drainage & Wetlands truck
Valu Ford    Morris    $27,662
Nolan Baker    Kerk    $29,929    + $2,267
Parkview    Monte    $30,194    + $2,532
Heartland     Morris    $34,089    + $6,427

In raising the issue of local preference, District 5 Commissioner Eric Rudningen of Kerkhoven said, “Obviously this concerns a business at my end of the county, but as a bigger point, it is something that we should have a bigger open discussion about as a board.”
“I’ll get on my soapbox for two minutes and we will go from there,” Rudningen told his fellow commissioners. “I think the reason that we have a competitive bid process in government is because of historical issues throughout the country with bid fixing and things of that nature. So on the surface, and as we move forward, the competitive bid process is a healthy thing.”

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