Sarasota County debates ordinance on local company preference

07/08/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday

Sarasota County Commissioners debated for close to two hours today, but failed to come to a complete agreement on a new ordinance on giving preferences for contracts to local businesses.

Currently, if an outside company submits a low bid on a contract, and a local company's bid is within 10 percent, the local company may match the low bid and win the contract.

Jennifer Slusarz is the Procurement Manager for the County. She said the County lists 100 possible points in grading a proposal.

Earlier this year, the Board voted to define ‘local’ to be within 4 counties : Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, and Charlotte.

Commissioner Joe Barbetta suggested that more points should be allocated for businesses who have been active in the community longer. Commissioner Nora Patterson didn’t favor that provision.

The Board gave instructions that the provisions be separated between construction services and other goods and services. But they quarreled over other provisions. At several points Commission Chair Jon Thaxton voiced frustration.

The Board agreed to give a local preference for a company that has a minimum of 50% of their employees located in one of the 4 counties classified as local. But they then fell into a long debate about the total number of employees that could be eligible for a local preference. They ultimately decided that at least 1 full time employee be located locally.

The Board also changed their reciprocity provision.

Commisioner Joe Barbetta said the Board needed to something dramatic to help boost local companies.

With the language getting more complicated in their proposal, Commissioners voted to have their staff rework the Ordinance and bring it back to them for further discussion by the end of the month.

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