Advertisement

Should local companies get preference over city firms?

May 02, 2001

Should local companies get preference over city firms?



Should Hagerstown's local government give preference to local companies, even when their bids for goods or services aren't the lowest ones? It's a serious question that the city council elected May 15 will have to grapple with.

The issue surfaced again after the local accounting firm of Albright Crumbacker Moul & Itell lost a bid to do city government audits for 2001 and 2002 to a Wooden & Benson, a Baltimore firm which undercut the local firm's $55,000 bid by $5,700.

After the council voted 3-2 to accept the low bid, Peter Alexander, a principal with the local firm, said his company might hold off on requests for donations to public events like the Western Maryland Blues Fest so it could make a lower bid next time.

Two days after the vote, managing partner Doug Moul said he was disappointed the city didn't take into account the firm's status as a good corporate citizen. He noted the firm has done much for the city, including renovating a downtown building, a space he said it has not outgrown. He noted the firm might leave town to void what he said was a $20,000 city tax bill.

Advertisement

Whether Moul's firm receives service that are worth that extra cash is a topic for another day. But what the firm is asking is no more than what city leaders ask when they urge people to shop in the city, instead of traveling to the metro areas. In the big city, because there is a higher volume of customers, there will always be some supplier who can beat the Hagerstown firm's price.

But if no one remains loyal to the local merchant or service provider, who will occupy the buildings here, pay taxes and serve on the various citizen committees like those that organize the Blues Fest or Augustoberfest?

The first step is too look at state law, then ask the Maryland Municipal League to explore how other municipalities deal with this issue. A firm whose employees participate in community activities should have some advantage over a company with no real connections to the community.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|