As of now, when the City of Charleston is looking for bids council must choose the lowest bidder, but Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin is looking to make an exception for local vendors.
During Monday night’s Finance Committee meeting Goodwin put forth a request to Finance Chairman Joseph Jenkins. He along with two other finance committee members will be on a subcommittee that will look into the feasibility of creating a policy giving preference to local vendors.
“As you know, my administration is committed to helping strengthen local businesses, as they are an essential part of life and success of our community and provide jobs, goods, and services to our citizens everyday,” she wrote in the request. “I write to you today because I believe more can be done to strengthen local business.”
As of now, the city is required to take the lowest bid. For instance, the city is buying 60 new patrol rifles. The two options were a Charleston-based company, Boggs Gun Shop, and the Ohio-based Vance Outdoors Inc. The cost difference was only a few dollars between the two companies’ different types of guns.
Any bid of $25,000 or more must go through council and must go to the lowest bidder. However, anything under $25,000 can be decided at the department and city manager level.
The subcommittee will be researching the topic further.
“There are issues with giving local preferences and we wanted to do it right,” Jenkins said during the council meeting. “We’re going to look at what other municipalities in the state have done.”
Goodwin also submitted a proposal to council’s Urban Renewal and Economic Development Committee to create a robust food truck strategy for the city.
She said the ordinance will provide logistical guidance such as where the food trucks can be, and noise and safety regulations. City Attorney Kevin Baker said in the statement the current ordinances are not up to date to address food trucks.
“I want to create an ordinance that not only produces a welcoming and vibrant place for food trucks, but also takes into consideration the investment our brick-and-mortar restaurateurs have made in our community,” Goodwin said in a prepared statement. “At the same time, we must make sure the use of public streets and sidewalks are safe and convenient for all citizens.”