The bid preference ordinance for local businesses pursuing city contracts for certain goods, services and equipment was approved by the El Centro City Council on Tuesday.
The proposed ordinance applies to businesses located in the city that earn at least 50 percent of their sales within the city, have a principle place of business in the city, and a valid El Centro business license, according to a report to the council.
Once applied, the ordinance gives a deduction of up to $10,000 to a local vendor’s bid versus a non-discounted vendor.
This ordinance excludes contracts worth less than $5,000 or that use state or federal funds. Moreover, public works-related contracts are also excluded. However, a separate ordinance for public works contracts was also approved Tuesday.
The council reviewed both bid preference ordinances some five months ago, but both proposals were continued after council members questioned what a local business is, who should be getting this bid preference and whether there should be enforcement penalties for businesses that lie about their status.
This ordinance also takes into consideration City Councilwoman Cheryl Viegas Walker suggestions made in September, when she asked staff to identify so-called minority-owned small businesses, veteran-owned small businesses and women-owned small businesses.
The ordinance brings those categories into play whenever two discounted bidders are tied in a bid. And, if two businesses’ bids match and have equal categories, then the contract will be awarded by lot, according to a report.
The ordinance also includes enforcement language for those businesses that use their discounted category for fraudulent purposes. For instance, if fraud is identified, the report notes that such business won’t be recognized as a local business for two years and the city could terminate or suspend the contract, as well as pursue “any other remedy available by law.”
Public works preference
The public works preference ordinance approved Tuesday is similar in that it carries the same exceptions, meaning it applies only on projects using solely local funds.
The proposed public works bid preference ordinance applies for the purpose of determining the low bidder, according to a report to the council, and doesn’t actually reduce the bid price.
A local business is identified as one that has at least 50 percent of its sales in El Centro and at least 25 percent of its employees residing in Imperial County, said Public Works Director Terry Hagen. In addition, non-local companies do get benefits under the ordinance when subcontracting with local companies, according to a report to the council.
Very few projects are expected to qualify for this ordinance because most projects use state or federal funds. But Hagen noted that the upcoming remodeling of the council chambers and a police station parking lot structure are two projects that will qualify in the near future.
Staff Writer Alejandro Dávila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or email@example.com
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