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June 11. 2014 10:13PM

Local preference of vendors pushed by Nashua aldermen

NASHUA — After some minor adjustments, city officials this week approved an ordinance that will encourage preference to local vendors.

To assist the local economy and support city businesses, the Board of Aldermen adopted the local preference ordinance that will go into effect in 30 days, and be implemented for all bids, requests for proposals and requests for quotes. Although some aldermen had initial concerns about the ordinance, some slight changes were made to improve the legislation, according to Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 9, primary sponsor of the ordinance.

After some “constructive disagreements,” Siegel said officials worked together to better the document and address any concerns.

The ordinance establishes a local preference factor to be used when awarding bids to various companies. The preference factor will essentially reduce a local bid by 5 percent if the contract is for less than $10,000 of work, and reduce a local bid by 3 percent if the contract is for more than $10,000 of work.

The local preference factor may be applied to all businesses in Nashua, any business that employs a substantial number of city residents, any business that is principally owned by a Nashua resident or any business believed to bring substantial benefit to the local economy, according to the ordinance.

“This legislation helps recognize the value of relationships with local vendors, and ultimately benefits the city by saving money and providing better service,” Siegel said recently. “I think it is important to recognize that there are costs associated with purchases that aren’t strictly related to the purchase price.”

Siegel said earlier that there are sometimes disadvantages to awarding non-local vendors, even though their contract price may be less than a local company. By favoring Nashua businesses, shipping concerns are typically much less a concern, and the chance for a response or correction to an issue will likely be quicker if the company is local, he explained.

There is a provision that states local preference will not be applied to any contract associated with federal or state funds. In addition, local preference for bidders or products may be given only when there is no sacrifice or loss in quality, performance or service, states the ordinance.

Siegel sponsored the legislation after a local sporting goods company — M&N Sports of Nashua — previously lost a contract with the Nashua School District because an outside firm provided a quote that was $1 less.

On Tuesday, Siegel stressed that the new ordinance does not override due diligence to select a good vendor, explaining the city purchasing manager will not apply the local preference factor, if it will hinder quality products or services.

khoughton@newstote.com


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