BUY SHERIFF’S CARS…FROM LOCAL DEALERS
A WHKP STATION EDITORIAL
JANUARY 9, 2009
In their first meeting of 2009 this week, our county commissioners spent $130 thousand on 6 new Dodge Charger police cruisers for the sheriff’s department. If the sheriff needs to replace 6 cars, ok. Sheriff’s cars are a legitimate, even essential function of county government. Trouble is…that $130 thousand of LOCAL Henderson County taxpayer’s money wasn’t spent here…it was spent with a car dealership in Guilford County.
County commissioner Larry Young points out that commissioners were accepting the LOW BID on those cars, which the law requires them to do. The dealership in High Point that won the contract for those 6 cars, out-bid, or under-bid…a local Henderson County dealership by less that $1,000 per car.
Accepting the low bid is good, it’s the law, and we support that. But to our knowledge, there is NO rule that says county commissioners can’t restrict bids to dealerships in their OWN COUNTY. That’s the way police and sheriff’s cars were purchased here for many years. The specifications were sent out to all local dealers and bids were invited…the low bidder, usually among the “big three”, got the contract…and the money stayed AT HOME.
Our county commissioners adopted a policy some time back…of spending local taxpayer’s money IN Henderson County. They re-iterated that policy by supporting the recent “Shop and Dine in Henderson County” campaign through the holidays. Even though they saved $6,000 in the process, it made NO sense to take $130 thousand of LOCAL taxpayers money over 6 counties away to the Piedmont Triad. Not at a time when the rest of us are being encouraged to “spend in Henderson County”, especially not in the midst of the worst recession most of us can remember, when our LOCAL new car dealerships are facing some of the most severe and threatening economic challenges in their history.
Our Henderson County dealerships employ hundreds of local people; pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes…including LOCAL property taxes; and support our LOCAL economy in ways that amount to millions of dollars a year. That $6 thousand dollars supposedly saved on those 6 sheriff’s cars, bought from a dealer in Guilford County wasn’t really a “saving” at all.
A former county commissioner tells us the commissioners have some “wiggle room” in accepting bids, to accept them in the best interest of the county…in the best interests of the LOCAL taxpayers and the LOCAL economy.
It may be argued that only one LOCAL dealership could supply those Dodge Chargers and that wouldn‘t have been fair. If that’s the case, the specifications shouldn’t be so rigid. Level the playing field…and set specs that are fair to ALL local dealerships, that give them ALL a chance.
Folks, these are extraordinary times…that require not only penny pinching by local government, but spending every scarce and hard-earned dollar of LOCAL taxpayer’s money in a way that supports LOCAL businesses, keeps LOCAL jobs, and keeps our LOCAL economy alive and well.
We’re sure the commissioners had good intentions by accepting the low bid. But a BETTER idea, we believe, would have been to keep that money AT HOME; accept bids from only LOCAL dealers; and to set specs and level the playing field so that all LOCAL dealers have a chance. If there’s any rule or law that says they can’t, it’s a BAD law…and ought to be changed.
Buying on the “state” contract is ok…but in extraordinary economic times like we’re in now, “home” comes first. And we believe…in the long run…spending LOCAL taxpayer’s money at HOME is an even greater, and much, much smarter saving