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Oxford Village looks to make geography part of bid process



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November 21, 2012 - A public hearing was set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11 to see what citizens think of the Village of Oxford's proposal to give companies preferential treatment based on geography in their bidding processes.

Officials are proposing to amend the village's purchasing ordinance to favor businesses and companies located in the United States, Michigan and Oxford Township and Village.

Supplies, materials, equipment or contractual services "made in the United States or provided by a wholly-owned United States entity" that are part of a "responsible bid" submitted to the village and are "within 3 percent of the lowest responsible bid, shall be treated as the lowest bid," according to the proposed language.

A "responsible bid" is one that meets the village's bid specifications and is made by an individual or entity that is considered to be qualified, trustworthy and able to provide the service or product.

The proposed bidding advantage increases to 5 percent when it's a Michigan product or service; 7 percent when its made or provided by an Oxford Twp. company; and 10 percent for goods and services originating from within Oxford Village.

"I like the notion of this," said Councilman Tony Albensi. "I think the percentages might be a little too high."

Albensi was also concerned about the possibility it making it more difficult for village officials to do business.

"I don't want to tie the hands of council – of this council or any future council," said Albensi, who noted that right now, council isn't obligated to always choose the lowest bid. Officials try to pick the "lowest responsible bidder," he explained.

"Lowest responsible bidder" is a term that recognizes the fact that lowest price can often mean lowest quality. It's an attempt to strike a proper balance between low price and high quality in order to get the best long-term value.

Village Manager Joe Young made it clear that the proposed ordinance amendment does not mean companies that fit the aforementioned geographic criteria would be automatically awarded the bid or that council would be required to choose them. It simply gives them an advantage by making them the lowest bidder.

"I think the percentages are fine," said Councilman Elgin Nichols, who originally proposed implementing a policy to favor U.S. companies. Regarding the proposed amendment, Nichols said, "I think it does give enough room there where council isn't going to have their hands tied."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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