Some thoughts on Monday’s FPCOW meeting – Part 2

The second issue which engendered some serious debate and which was laid over for further investigation grew out of the following agenda item:

Request for Proposal #1003 Primary Waterworks Supplier

Staff’s Recommendation: That Council award Request for Proposal #1003 to Corix Water Products for a five (5) year term. The approximate total value over the five (5) year term is $5 million dollars.”

Discussion on this issue was instigated, at least in part, by submissions from two of the unsuccessful bidders for this contract who raised concerns around the length of the contract which has previously been for one year only and has now been raised to five years; and the question of whether such contracts should be awarded locally.  The recommended firm is from Duncan.

Staff noted that the city currently operates a number of five year contracts, though it was pointed out that these usually do not deal with the kinds of volatility which can be found in the parts business.  Staff felt that the five year contract would save the city money, but neither an estimator nor a dollar cost was supplied for such savings.  I trust that Council was better acquainted with the details of the contract than am I, as I am not sure how a contract for parts can be put together for one year, let alone five, for a fixed price when one is only guessing about what parts will be needed.

The second major part of the discussion revolved around the question of local purchasing.  The selected firm is from out of town and questions of local jobs, incomes, community participation, etc. was discussed.  Staff noted that this practice is a double edged sword which may well cut against us if our local firms bid on out of town contracts.  There were also questions concerning the manner in which the bids were reviewed.  I don’t know the practices used here, but I was always impressed in Singapore where bids were opened in public and the bids read out.  I presume that we will learn more about local practices when this matter comes up for discussion in the future.

As for me, I tend to go with the bid price as amended by the externalities associated with the bid.  If an out-of-towner can beat the locals even after taking into account local jobs, taxes, etc., they should get the job.   But to go on bid price alone can see many of our jobs leaving.  What do you think?

Ron Bolin