When it comes to assigning county projects, the Hall County Board of Commissioners wants to do its best to give work to local companies.
At the request of the commission, the county attorney is looking into an ordinance that would allow Hall to accept the bid of a local company as long as it is within 3 percent of the lowest bid overall.
"I think part of our job is to stimulate the local economy as much as possible and it’s the citizens of this county that have elected us, that pay the taxes, pay the business license fees and if we can do some small part to help assist them I think it goes along with the job as far as what we should do," Commissioner Billy Powell said.
But Hall County Purchasing Manager Tim Sims said it is illegal to accept bids only from within the county.
"By Georgia law we have to accept the most responsible, responsive bidder at the lowest cost," Sims said. "So we encourage local vendors to place bids with us, but that’s really out of our control if they actually do it or not."
Sims said there are a few ways requests for proposals, or bids, are announced.
"We have a vendor list that businesses can sign up to be on. Most of the local businesses are on that, and we pull those lists based on the commodity they’ve asked to be listed as," Sims said.
When a bid is available, Sims said he will send information to applicable vendors alerting them that it is available. Advertisements are also placed in The Times and on the county’s Web site.
Over the last year, such bidding has become more competitive.
"I think that right now with the economy like it is, everybody’s hungry," Sims said. "We’re getting a lot more (bidders) and some of the people who wouldn’t normally do business with us are finding that they need to try to do business with us to stay afloat."
Commissioner Bobby Banks said he thinks too many jobs are going to companies from outside Hall.
"It’s just not right. We’ve got reputable companies that can do the work here in Hall County and keep the tax money here," Banks said. "Some of the bids (from outside the county) I’ve seen, we have no choice. But nine times out of 10, the local folks are just as competitive as folks outside the county ... if it’s 2 to 3 percent I would have no problem awarding it to local folks."
Sims said often the reason local companies send in higher bids is because they are smaller businesses that need a higher profit margin from the job.
Commissioner Ashley Bell suggested the county hold a vendors conference to help inform local businesses of opportunities and teach them about the process.
"We definitely want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to let them know about opportunities to do business with Hall County," Bell said. "At the end of the day, we want to make sure we take care of our own. But we have to do it in a way that protects taxpayers so we’re not over-paying for services."