A letter published in the Aug. 7, 2012, Tomahawk Leader
In the July 24 Reader Opinion section of the Tomahawk Leader it was suggested that the city was being hypocritical by awarding a contract for the reroofing of the city garage to a contractor from outside the community. It is important to understand that the size and complexity of the garage roof, including asbestos removal, limited the number of city contractors that could do the job. The city had taken the time to solicit proposals from three contractors, one of which was from the city. From those three contractors we received four proposals. The proposal that was selected was 20%, or $12,000 below the local contractor proposal.
The process that was used to solicit costs was the proposal process, which allows some leeway in choosing a contractor versus a bid, which requires you to take the low bidder. If the proposals are close you have the ability to weigh other factors such as timeliness of the work or product quality. In this case it was felt that the quality of the work and product were similar and a 20% increase in cost was not warranted.
The letter also goes on to suggest that we should have “asked the local company to go a bit lower” once we knew the other companies proposal cost. In all government contract situations this would be unethical and in most cases would be illegal. Simply put, government is held to a different standard than private individuals or businesses. Most business will not “shop” numbers around for fear that after a while contractors will no longer give them a bid.
The city does the vast amount of their purchasing with local businesses. However, there are situations such as the garage roof that it is in the best interest of the taxpayer that we purchase from outside the community.
Tomahawk Director of Public Works