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'Low bid' not really the best one

September 22, 2006

Let's give the hometown merchants - and possibly the taxpayers - a break.

The idea of sending Hagerstown Police officers to Baltimore to get their uniforms is ridiculous, when a downtown men's clothing shop has been supplying them for the past 20 years.

For reasons that aren't yet clear, the city government asked for bids and Hoffman Clothiers of Hagerstown bid $18,988, while Howard Uniform Co., of Baltimore, bid $17,567.45.

That's a difference of $1,420.55, but every cents saved helps, right?

Well, maybe not. Officers have to go to Baltimore for fittings. More than a dozen went to Baltimore a few weeks ago for fittings, a process that took three hours. If they went on their own time, that seems like a needless hardship to place on officers.

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If they were paid by the city, it seems to us that the cost of paying them for such trips would soon outweigh the $1,420.55 saved by choosing the low bidder.

And then there is the idea of supporting downtown merchants. It probably would be possible to find an Internet uniform supplier that could undercut all other bidders.

But that supplier wouldn't pay city taxes or employ any local residents. Nor would that supplier give anyone a reason to go downtown.

On Tuesday, the City Council should look beyond the few dollars taking the low bid would save.

As a taxpaying business and local employer, Hoffman Clothiers deserves a break, based on its many years of support for the downtown area.

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