Brenda Northrop: Contract locally
April 29, 2006
The Routt County commissioners gave the bid for the justice center to an out-of-town contractor. Never mind that there were two local companies who also bid for this job. Again, never mind that the local contractors were under the projected bid of $14 million. The commissioners awarded this job to an out-of-town contractor. The difference between the out-of-town contractor and the local contractor was about 1 percent. The commissioners would like to think that they are saving taxpayers’ money.
I work for a company that bid for the mechanical work for this job. My company was about $100,000 less than the out-of-town mechanical company. The out-of-town contractor chose to hire the company he is familiar with, his out-of-town mechanical contractor. We lost about $1.6 million. The company I work for has been in business in Routt County since 1969. We bid with a local plumber and a local welder, so now three local companies lost. Is the 1 percent worth it yet?
Wait, it gets worse. I called one of the commissioners and asked whether they could help us. The answer was no. They have no control over this out-of-town contractor. I asked whether anything in their bylaws that would tell the out-of-town contractor that there is a certain percentage he would have to hire in town (whether companies or local people). The answer was no.
I asked whether the contract with this out-of-town contractor states that he should hire locally where possible. The answer was no. I asked whether the commissioners knew of any subcontractors that this out-of-town contractor were going to hire. The answer was no. So without hiring a local contractor and its employees, who would hire local subcontractors and their employees, we all lose. There will not be job security for local workers; there might not be any jobs at all. How do you tell a person who lives here and who pays taxes here, “Sorry, we have no work”?
Now, let me get this straight. First, the people of Routt County did not want a new courthouse, but it was forced on them. Second, Routt County residents wanted the courthouse to stay downtown, and again we lost. Now, third, our tax money is going out of town with an out-of-town contractor. If this were baseball, I would call that strike three. I would like to do a recall on the commissioners, but I need your help. If you are interested in helping with this recall, please call me.