Chamber lobbies for changes to town’s bidding guidelines

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

The Southington Chamber of Commerce announced its endorsement for changes to the town’s preferred bidding ordinance.

The chamber recently submitted a letter to the town’s Ordinance Review Committee, where they endorsed a 5 percent increase to the current preferred bidding ordinance. Right now, if a Southington business is within 5 percent of the lowest bidder, they are notified, giving them the opportunity to lower or match their offer.

The proposed increase would state that if Southington bidders are within 10 percent of the lowest bid for local projects with a total value between $10,000 and $500,000, they will be notified.

“Supporting this change supports Southington businesses and gives them opportunities for projects,” said chamber executive director Elizabeth Hyatt. “The Chamber is taking a stand to advocate for our members by promoting the ordinance.”

The idea was spearheaded by Dawn Miceli, who serves as a Town Councilor, chamber board member, and chair of the chamber’s economic development committee. She researched surrounding towns’ preferred bidding guidelines and spoke with local businesses about the issue.

“Many towns with similar demographics as Southington have higher low bid percentage numbers,” said Miceli. “I think it’s important to bring cognizance to our local business community about the opportunities the town offers in terms of municipal projects.”

Miceli expressed her disappointment at the lack of Southington bidders for Calendar House projects during the Feb. 27 council meeting, which sparked conversation among the councilors.

Council chair Michael Riccio said that he has never seen a more business-friendly council than Southington’s, but since the topic is brought up at many meetings, he wanted to comment.

“We got accused, for years, of the ‘good ol’ boy network’ and taking care of our own ad nauseam,” he said. “We put processes in place that made it fair for everybody. We give favoritism to the local bidders and make it fair to get rid of the good ol’ boy network.”

Miceli said that she will continue discussing the issue because it is something she is very passionate about.

“If we truly want to be partners in economic development with our business community, we must ensure that we are working together to strengthen, sustain, and encourage continued growth among our local commercial entities,” she said later in an email.

“The 10 percent figure is arbitrary and therefore not binding, meaning it won’t cost the town,” Miceli said. “It simply means that if a Southington bidder is within 10 percent of the lowest bidder, a call will be made to the Southington company telling them that if they are able to match the low bid then the job is theirs.”

There is currently no motion in front of the council on this issue.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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