Purchasing policy questioned

City of Vernon slammed for not buying local

The City of Vernon defends not purchasing supplies strictly from local companies.

Presently, the city does not have a policy that calls for local preference when it comes to acquiring materials, rebuilding roads or purchasing equipment.

“We’re looking for the overall value to taxpayers, including delivery,” said Kevin Bertles, finance manager.

However, that process isn’t going over well with Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe, who points out that the recession has hurt may local businesses.

“Are we pro-local supplier?” she asked her colleagues Monday.

“We should be attempting to use local suppliers if they are within a certain (monetary) range.”

Lowest bidder is generally accepted, and Bertles insists that can allow the city to do more with its financial resources, such as upgrading infrastructure.

“The reality is taxpayers are paying the bill and that’s who we are doing this for,” he said.

Under provincial rules, any projects worth more than $75,000 must be tendered out and they can’t have buy-local clauses.

There is also a question as to what should be considered local.

“Is Wal-Mart a local supplier or is it where its head office is that matters?” said Leon Gous, chief administrative officer.

It was also pointed out that while businesses from outside of Vernon can bid on work here, Vernon entrepreneurs can seek business in other communities.

But even though the city doesn’t have a buy-local policy, there is some recognition of area merchants.

“When we are looking to source low-value items, we look to the local community,” said Shannon Shannon, purchasing agent.

“The only time we wouldn’t do that is when it’s not available locally.”