Glenwood Springs City Council works to update local preference code |

Glenwood Springs City Council works to update local preference code

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Glenwood Springs City Council is considering updating the city’s current local preference code, and are also trying to simplify the way in which the code applies to construction bids like the Wastewater Treatment Facility project. However, that discussion has proven more involved than first thought.

Council held a work session on Dec. 17, to determine what changes were needed. After rejecting the bids for the Wastewater Treatment Facility project at its Dec. 17 City Council meeting, council decided that updating the ordinance should be complete before the project is rebid.

In an attempt to resolve the issue before the end of the calendar year, council held a special meeting on Dec. 23 to further discuss what specifically should be changed in the current ordinance that would ultimately encourage contractors, local or otherwise, to use local subcontractors in any project associated with Glenwood Springs.

Mayor Bruce Christensen said, “We did give staff some advice with regard to what council would like to see in a revised ordinance.”

Council wrestled with redefining the term “local” within the code at the Dec. 23 meeting. Christensen said that council ultimately agreed to change the current definition of “local” from any contractor working in the three-county area of Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties, to any business with a primary office within a 45-mile radius of Glenwood Springs, or any national contractor or subcontractor with a certain amount of employees who live and work within the same area, would be considered local.

Other code changes considered include raising the dollar amount credited to a contractor for using local subcontractors. The current credit is 5 percent up to $10,000 on projects between $25,000 and $200,000. Christensen proposed changing the limits to 3 percent up to $300,000 on all contracts regardless of overall price, at an earlier meeting. However, Councilwoman Shelley Kaup said that $300,000 was too high. A specific limit amount will have to be determined before the new ordinance is adopted.

Council also discussed removing the purchasing prices of job-related materials that are currently included in the dollar amount credited for local contractors. The new change in code would include local labor only, and not materials purchased for the job.

Kaup said that the changes are needed because the current code does not apply to many contracts.

“We are trying to get an ordinance that actually works and we can apply,” Kaup said.

According to the city’s purchasing agent, Ricky Smith, the city has not awarded a bid based on the current local preference code in the five years that he’s been employed with the city. He told councilors at the Dec. 17 meeting that the majority of city projects are done through a competitive bid process where the city looks at the lowest cost only.

The current code also gives Council the ability to award a contract to the second lowest bidder, if the contractor is within $10,000 of the lowest bid but utilizes more local subcontractors. Most councilors agreed that $10,000 seems unusually low, especially when considering contracts in the $20 million range. The two low bidders for the wastewater project were separated by $58,000. The low bidder came in at $23.5 million.

“If you are going to award for something other than low bid, and want a list of local subs, and an award system of points for the use of local subs, I think that when we talk about local preference, I want to be sure that Glenwood does not lose the ability to get back competitive bids,” Smith said.

City attorney Jan Shute is drafting new language to present to Council by Jan. 7. No changes have been adopted yet, and council plans to revisit the discussion at its Jan. 7 meeting. Two readings of the ordinance are required, including a vote to adopt the changes, before the new ordinance would take effect.

Council is working against a tight deadline as they hope to include the updated local preference in the upcoming bid for the wastewater contract. No date has been set as to when that contract will be rebid, but council is hoping to be able to award the contract by early March at the latest.

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