Doug Meyer warns Greater Hume tradies losing out to 'outsiders' as council considers local preference purchasing policy

TIME TO ACT: Greater Hume Deputy Mayor Doug Meyer says council must act on a local preference purchasing policy to support shire businesses. Picture: MARK JESSER

TIME TO ACT: Greater Hume Deputy Mayor Doug Meyer says council must act on a local preference purchasing policy to support shire businesses. Picture: MARK JESSER

Ensuring local suppliers in the Greater Hume shire don’t lose out to big Albury companies in securing tenders is the “hot potato” Deputy Mayor Doug Meyer has pursued since 2012, but a solution isn’t in sight yet.

A draft local preference purchasing policy was due to be endorsed for public comment on Wednesday night, but after debate over the fine details was deferred to the June council meeting – much to Cr Meyer’s frustration.

“We have tradesmen in Greater Hume Shire who are being disadvantaged because Greater Hume is giving tenders to outsiders of the shire,” he said.

“That’s really what it was about, not about whether somebody owned a business in Albury and were residents of Greater Hume.”

His comments were in response to general manager Steven Pinnuck’s concern that residents or significant investors of the shire who owned businesses in other centres might be disadvantaged if the policy was “adhered to in its strictest form”.

“It’s a challenge more for us as we’re right next door to a regional city,” he said.

“Specialty Press was owned by a resident of Jindera who contributed to Jindera, but because the actual business was in Albury, it wouldn’t get captured by this policy.”

The draft policy, that council seek the best value for money in procurement of goods and services while “where possible, giving preference to local suppliers”, would apply a pricing concession system.

For purchases between $2501 and $5000, local suppliers would be given a 10 per cent price concession, and a 5 per cent concession between $5000 and $99,999.

For example, if a $9750 bid was submitted from a non-local supplier, compared to a $10,000 bid from a local supplier with a 5 per cent concession applied, that local bid would drop to $9500 for evaluation purposes.

The local supplier, if deemed to be best value on all accounts, would be successful but still paid $10,000.

Mr Pinnuck noted there were a number of considerations in the policy for businesses based outside the shire who invested heavily in Greater Hume resources – concessions could also apply to such applicants.

“If we’re talking about an outsider contractor that’s using local labour for example, they should also be within the mix,” he said.

“I’d be happy, if it was the view of the meeting … we could defer (voting) pending further consideration.”

Cr Kim Stewart said ratepayers worrying they might lose business by working outside of the shire would not be beneficial.

“Are we able to put out key principles of the business as well as where the business is located and use that kind of wording?,” she asked.

Cr Tony Quinn said the wording “had to be right” and moved a successful amendment to defer voting on the draft policy to June.

Cr Meyer accepted the deferment but stressed it was about time a solution be nutted out.

“I first came to council in September 2012 and this was a hot potato then,” he said.

“Here we are, five years later, and we’re still debating the little bits – we have to start doing something.”

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