Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Your tax money at work, or is it?

Local Vendor preference

One municipality has said ‘No’ to a Local Vendor preference – This link provides the background - http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/nov/16/city-naples-decides-against-giving-local-vendors-p/- which emanated from one Local Architect’s complaint to the City, after a recent RFP was awarded to a Firm based in another County. The issue is complicated; however, in an ideal context, a Firm should demonstrate their acumen to perform on that particular Project, during Bid submission, independently of Fees – from there, negotiations, is where it gets ‘cloudy’ and where the discussion lingered…while not all-inclusive (i.e., Scope greatly affecting a fee), observations of potential ramifications follow…

The issue of the ‘low-baller’ is well-known, while not always the case, possibly best summarized as “you get what you pay for.” Independently of specific fee amounts, consider Tax revenue as a Local Resource, a taxpayer may be a Local Professional, with a Local Business, within the municipality’s tax base, with potential taxpaying-employees - is it not a prudent measure to aid them in continuing to work, within that tax base, thus, offering a ‘revenue continuity’ for the Government itself? Is it fair that the same Business Owner’s taxes pay for an outside Firm’s Work? Does it make sense to potentially ‘export’ business and subsequent talent to other areas in which they will pay taxes? The short term, best value, percentage, could be overshadowed by long term, higher cost.
In no way am I picking on the City’s decision here; however, it strikes me as a bit near-sighted, save two Council Members’ observations. Collier County, interestingly, offers this ‘Local preference,’ but don’t be fooled – this is offered to Companies in extreme-south Lee County, as well – again, exporting tax revenue or reaping best value? Further, the County has “Long Term” Contracts, offering purchase orders (repetitive business) to the same Firms, over and over – this has connotations of its own, relative to a Firm’s timeline/motivation, Project’s best qualified Designer/Contractor, and/or a circle of ‘closed competition’…

It’s an interesting debate, akin to larger-scale political and economic climates that affect the U.S. now, and in the end, Local Staff must determine any Firm’s ability, past performance, and familiarity with Local context, issues, and Codes. This last point certainly makes it crucial to evaluate credentials, a potential contract, and ‘plan ahead,’ since a Firm ‘out of area,’ could submit a Contract Change Order, negating any value gained on the front end…As the economy continues to gain steam, this debate will lose traction, as private industry spurs to life and Firm’s move to re-diversify their Work type and Clients. However, as a taxpayer, it truly is ‘bittersweet’ to watch as taxes are used to fund design fees that are ‘exported’ to other municipalities…

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