PLYMOUTH – A light agenda for Plymouth’s City Council on Monday night led to an in depth discussion about one of the few items on that agenda.
The city was considering a resolution to establish an interlocal agreement of cooperation to authorize purchases through the National Joint Powers Alliance.
The alliance is a group of govermental bodies originally established in the State of Minnesota that allows member govenmental agencies to act as a buying group when making govermental purchases for various equipment and supplies. The members, in theory receive better pricing by buying together and the added bonus of each item meeting the criteria for taking bids and awarding low prices as required by govermental statute.
Plymouth business people Jeff and Lenore Jones of Anco, and Rocky Talcott of the Floor Store and More, each located in downtown Plymouth came before the council to speak to the resolution being considered.
Jones made a presentation to the Council about experience that he has had in competing with such alliances for business and asked the Council to consider how the alliance would work. Saying hearing President elect Donald Trump talk of “…putting America first…” he urged Council members to put Marshall County first.
Pointing out the benefits offered by local businesses to local communities – jobs, taxes and keeping money within the community – were all other benefits of supporting local companies.
Jones presented a case that in his experience competing with such buying groups his pricing in many if not all cases was lower, many times as much as 30 percent lower. He said that many members of the groups turn down those vendors outside the group just because they are told to do so.
Jones was clear to say he and other business owners in the county were not asking for being given business, he said that they just want “…a chance to compete.”
“We just want the opportunity,” he said. “If we can’t compete than that’s one thing. All we want is the opportunity to try.”
City Attorney Sean Surrisi pointed out to the Jones’s and Talcott that the main interest of the city in the alliance was as regarded special pieces of equipment that they had trouble getting bids for. Statute requires that governments advertise and solicit quotes and bids on any expenditure over $50,000. In the case of the city of Plymouth any purchase over $300 requires approval and issuing of a purchase order.
As an example the city street department is seeking to purchase a loader. There are no local vendors that sell such equipment and Superintendent Marquardt received just one bid on the item. The purchasing alliance would allow for the city to get more competitive bids for similar items.
“Our intent in this was to be able to do this in a situation like that,” said Councilman Shawn Grobe. “A specialized piece of equipment that we don’t have a local dealer for. Earlier tonight we opened bids for trucks and those were local dealers. I don’t want to speak for all the council members but it’s certainly my intention we keep using local businesses.”