A new city policy to give preference to local Lawrence businesses will benefit one local car dealership.
The City Commission unanimously adopted a buy-local policy Tuesday that would allow the city to award contracts to Lawrence businesses over out-of-town ones, even if the local bid is higher.
The difference in bids can’t be more than 1 percent or greater than $10,000. The policy wouldn’t apply to construction projects or bids worth less than $15,000.
In 2008, there weren’t any projects that would have qualified under the policy, said Jonathan Douglass, assistant to the city manager.
During Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager David Corliss said there weren’t that many projects that would fit under the policy, but pointed to the purchasing of vehicles, road salt and chemicals as ones that would.
The idea for the policy surfaced last month when city commissioners reviewed bids for about $200,000 worth of police cars. The low bid came from Shawnee Mission Ford, but Lawrence-based Laird Noller Automotive submitted a bid that was only $738 higher.
At Tuesday’s meeting and just minutes after approving the buy-local policy, the commission voted 3-2 to go with Laird Noller’s offer.
“I think we have an opportunity here to put our money where it needs to be put and that is back into the businesses in the community,” Commissioner Mike Amyx said.
The policy drew some fire at earlier meetings when some local businesses raised concerns that other communities could adopt policies that would make it more difficult for Lawrence companies to win out-of-town bids.
In other city business, the commissioners committed $75,000 to the Lawrence Douglas County Bioscience Authority for the construction and operation of a bioscience incubator on Kansas University’s West Campus.