JACKSON, Mich. — Mayor Derek Dobies is proposing a responsible contractor ordinance that he says would create more accountability and transparency when it comes to contract bids. Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan President and CEO Jimmy Greene says, why the need?
“My first thought is always the same,” Greene said. “It's how long have you been issuing irresponsible bids. That’s always the first question I ask. When you issue a responsible bidding ordinance that leaves open the question, have they been irresponsible prior to this? What are we fixing or are you attempting to fix?”
Dobies says there hasn’t been one certain contract or bid that has sparked his desire to try to pass this ordinance that went before city council and passed in its first reading.
“There’s been some problems with some delays on certain projects,” Dobies said. “There’s been different issues we face along the way no glaring here’s the reason why we need something like this. It’s been a culmination of going through and awarding these bids in the past that I think we can use an ordinance like this to provide more information to council in the awarding of those bids and council can use that criteria and awarding the contracts that gives us more information than here’s how the bids came back in terms of cost.”
Greene does wonder if this would open the door to legal complaints.
“I think they want to be very careful of lawsuits that have popped up around the country that have put cities and municipalities in particular in jeopardy because that subjectivity turned out to be discrimination. When you say someone is unsafe then you have to prove that someone is safer. When you live by subjectivity you die by subjectivity,” Greene said.
Dobies says there wouldn’t be any sort of discrimination.
“This ordinance doesn’t prioritize anyone over the other,” Dobies said. “But it does ask in the evaluation and the information that would be coming to council for their decision-making process about how they train their workers and ensure their workers have different training.”
The policy would ask contractors to let the city know how they evaluate the skills of their employees. Something Dobies believes is a no-brainer.
“I think it’s reasonable when we’re talking about sometimes multi-million dollar contracts that the city is awarding. We're the fiduciaries of the taxpayer dollars. Beyond just how we can get it for the cheapest cost we should be evaluating the company's ability to perform on that contract making sure they can operate safely,” Dobies said.
The ordinance would be for bids $50,000 and higher.
“There’s a line at which where collecting all that information there’s a diminishing return. We kind of established a $50,000 threshold where on smaller projects collecting all that information can be a decent amount of work.”
Dobies believes if the ordinance does pass it will create more competition with contracts and bids leading to more value on the bids they receive.
The ordinance will be brought for another reading at the Aug. 10 council meeting.
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