Local businesses get competitive edge from County

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Commissioners on Tuesday passed an ordinance giving established local companies a second chance at being the lowest bidder on County projects and purchases. The measure was approved 3-2 with Chairman Wesley Davis, along with commissioners Joe Flescher and Peter O’Bryan voting yes, but Bob Solari and Gary Wheeler dissenting. The vote came after more than a month of debate on the issue since it was raised by Flescher. Several local business owners spoke in favor of the ordinance, which would give a local bidder, defined as a business with a permanent location and street address and at least one year of doing business in Indian River, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Osceola or Brevard counties, the chance to meet the price of an out-of-town bidder should the local bid come within 5 percent of the low bid. Central Beach resident Nancy Offut spoke representing the Treasure Coast Builders Association.”I applaud you for getting behind this,” she said. “As it is written, I don’t think it has any detrimental effect on Indian River County residents.”There was some confusion about this arrangement, with Wheeler against paying more to buy local, but he untimately voted no on the principle that the ordinance anti-free trade. “Indian River County is not a closed society and I don’t believe in protectionism,” Wheeler said. “in six months when you go back and evaluate this, it will be inconsequential.”To counter that argument, O’Bryan brought up an example of a Parks Department contract awarded to a firm from Naples, Fla. in the Consent Agenda portion of the same meeting at which the ordinance was passed where $1.3 million could have gone to a local business.”We just let $1.3 million walk out the door and letting $1.3 million walk out of the county at this point in time is not a good idea.”Two local bidders, Certified General Contractors of Melbourne and Summit Construction Management Inc. of Vero Beach, had come within 5 percent of the low bid submitted by DeAngelis Diamond Construction Inc. of Naples. Under the new ordinance, the closest local company to the Diamond bid would have been contacted and given the opportunity to match it.

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