SOUTHINGTON - A change to the townâ€™s preferred bidder ordinance was approved at Mondayâ€™s Town Council meeting by a 5 to 4 vote along party lines. The Democratic majority was in favor and the Republicans were opposed.
The vote occurred after deadline Monday, and according to Town Manager Mark Sciota there was little debate at that time. This issue had been discussed at previous meetings and the local Chamber of Commerce also supported the change.
The revision will take effect 20 days from Friday when the town will send out a legal notice. A contract will then be awarded to a local bidder over an out of town bidder, as long as it matches the out-of-town bidder within 10 percent.
Previously, the bid would be awarded to the local bidder if it was within 5 percent.
The issue had previously been debated by Republican Councilor Tom Lombardi and Democratic Councilor Dawn Miceli.
Lombardi argued that the change may result in non-local bidders being more reluctant to bid and less competition, resulting in higher costs to taxpayers.
â€śNot only would this revision hurt competition but the other half of it is that if every other town implemented this policy it would hurt our businesses that are going out of town for projects,â€ť Lombardi argued. â€śThere isnâ€™t enough work in one town to sustain them all.â€ť
Miceli argued that many other local communities of Southingtonâ€™s size had a preferred bidding ordinance. She said that prior to the change many out-of-town or out-of-state bidders had been getting municipal jobs.
â€śIt seemed odd to me that in a community as large as ours, with 48,000 people, that more local contractors werenâ€™t getting the jobs,â€ť Miceli said. â€śFive percent just wasnâ€™t cutting it.â€ť
As for how the townâ€™s ordinance compares to other nearby communities, West Hartford, Avon, Plainville, Cheshire, Newington, Rocky Hill, Wallingford, Cromwell, Burlington, Wolcott and Glastonbury have no preferred bidding ordinance. Berlin has a 3 percent ordinance. Bristol has a 4 percent ordinance, Farmington has a 5 percent ordinance and Torrington has a 6 percent ordinance. Meriden, New Britain and Wethersfield have a 10 percent preferred bidding ordinance, like Southington will once this change goes into effect.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.