With the think local first program, sponsored by the Sierra Business Council gaining steam in the Eastern Sierra, there has been a lot of talk recently about local government contracts for roads, signs, buildings and such going to businesses and contractors from outside the area.
While this topic was not on the agenda, it did come up at the Bishop City Council Monday night. Public Works Director David Grah asked the council to sign off the plan to go out to bid on the $947,000 Grove Street sidewalk project.
Council member David Stottlemeyer asked City Attorney Peter Tracy if there was any flexibility in the bid process, to which Tracy responded that the city has to accept the lowest responsible bid. Both Council member Laura Smith and Stottlemeyer asked whether there could be a provision or requirement for local businesses built into the bid process.
When the City Attorney told the council members that such a thing would be illegal, Stottlemeyer said, Im striking out here.
While projects and materials can go to non local bidders, other city spending at the same meeting was slated for local companies. On two other projects up for discussion Monday night, David Grah explained that Triad engineering, based in Bishop and Mammoth, had won the bid for street light work on Mac Iver Street and another bid for design and right of way work for a joint Caltrans/City of Bishop project at the Wye Road intersection.
Also at the meeting Monday night, Community Services Director Keith Caldwell told the council that the city would buy a new Yamaha Rhino from Golden State Cycle in Bishop after the local bid came in lower then a bid from a business in Carson City.
Taking a different approach, council member Bruce Dishion asked how the bids were being advertised to businesses. Public Works Director Grah, explained that the projects are posted in the paper and online at the city website. He says that there is a lot of interest and awareness of the public projects from the contractor community.
With no wiggle room with which to work, the council approved putting the Grove Street sidewalk project out to bid. Whether a local company gets the job or not is yet to be seen.