PW councillors question buying out of town to save $300

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Heather Wright/The Independent

Some Plympton-Wyoming councillors are questioning buying a truck from a dealer in London when the local dealer could provide the same thing for $300 more.

Finch GMC in London had the lowest bid for a one tonne 4×4 truck at $95,069.79 with Ron Clark Motors from Wyoming bidding $95,431.55. Town staff recommended accepting the lowest bid – standard practice in municipal purchasing.

But in this case, it bothered some Plympton-Wyoming councillors.

“Is there any reason why not going with a local vendor for $300?” asked Councillor Mike Vasey. “It’s going to cost us more for warranty work and what not when we could just take it down the street. Obviously, if it was 1000s of dollars, but for $300 it makes no sense.

“The $300 will more than come back to us in the staff time running a truck to London,” he added.
Councillor Kristen Rodrigues agreed.

“It’s not necessarily just because they’re local; the servicing that comes with that, for the cost savings on the warranty side of it, the $300 seems so minimal to me,” she said.

Councillor John VanKlaveren also favoured the local bid.

“It’s often the measurables that can’t be laid out in a quote; who’s paying the local taxes, whose name is on the uniform of the soccer team, somebody’s buying in our stores. That’s what this business is and we want to encourage our locals to thrive and flourish,” he said.

Paul daSilva, manager of Public Works, says there are reasons to select the lowest tender.

“I would also say we run a risk if we were to select a local vendor, which I understand this council may want to do, it will decrease competition in future because other vendors and other municipalities just won’t want to bid on it,” he said.

“This is showing that this process works. So, if we were to just say select a local vendor every time it would decrease the competition, they wouldn’t have to sharpen their pencil.

“I do understand why you’re saying we could go with a local vendor. I’m not saying that we can’t, I’m just saying this, we have to treat all vendors fairly. And I guess this process is in place to increase competition and show that we’re procuring goods at fair market value.”

VanKlaveren believes choosing the local bidder would not be a problem.

“There will always be competition. I’m certainly not worried about that. They’ll always be somebody who wants to sell a truck.”

But Councillor Bob Woolvett warned those who bid could take legal action if their bid was the lowest but wasn’t chosen.

“Once we go outside that bid process and start to give preferential treatment to local businesses it is really a slippery slope,” he said.

In the end, council agreed to purchase the truck at the lowest cost from the London dealer.