Supervisors choose local dealer over lowest bidder
Deciding that it’s "more advantageous,” the Yuma County Board of Supervisors awarded the bid for 10 new trucks to a local dealer over the lowest – but out-of-town – bidder.
The county will be buying 10 new, full-size 4x4 trucks with police package for the sheriff’s office from Bill Alexander Ford, with a capped amount of $350,000.
At the supervisors’ request, the sheriff’s office went through the Request for Proposals process, rather than buying through the state procurement contract program.
When making major purchases, the county has two options: either buy through the state contract or solicit competitive bids.
The county received three proposals, and Chapman Ford of Scottsdale was the lowest bidder. Yuma dealers Bill Alexander Ford and Fisher Chevrolet were the second- and third-lowest respectively.
In July, the board authorized the sheriff’s office to buy six 2013 Ford F150 Super Crew 4x4 short-bed pickups from Chapman Ford through the state contract program in an amount not to exceed $175,000.
However, the supervisors weren't happy to be buying from an out-of-town vendor.
For the next purchase, they requested that the sheriff’s office use the RFP process with the hope that local dealers would submit bids.
“We try to buy local,” Sheriff Leon Wilmot told the supervisors on Monday. “I truly believe in that process.”
However, Wilmot explained that the RFP process is “burdensome” and usually costs more and takes twice the time of the “more efficient” state contract program.
The RFP took three months and five employees to process it, he said.
Wilmot said his goal is to stay within his budget and buy as much as he can locally while spending taxpayer’s money “the right way.”
"Even if bought locally, very little will stay here,” he said, because the dealers will have to reimburse Ford for the purchase of the trucks and the vehicles will have to be sent to Phoenix to be outfitted. In the future, he suggested the county might hire a mechanic to outfit their vehicles.
Supervisors Russ McCloud and Lenore Lorona Stuart bemoaned that state statute does not allow the county to consider sales taxes when evaluating bids.
“I don’t like being put in this situation. I don’t like sending our money out of town,” Stuart said.
But, McCloud pointed out, once the cost of delivery was factored in, the Chapman and Alexander bids were “virtually the same.”
Supervisors Tony Reyes echoed the sentiment, noting that once delivery costs were taken into account, the local bid was “more advantageous.”
Ken Rosevear, executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce, urged the supervisors to go with the local dealer. He noted that the difference in price between the lowest bidder, Chapman Ford, and the second lowest bidder, Alexander Ford, was less than 1 percent.
Rosevear also pointed out that car dealers are the second biggest sales tax contributors in the county, behind Walmart.
In a letter handed to the supervisors, Everett Dawson, general manager of Alexander Ford, said that “on the surface” it would appear that Alexander Ford was not the lowest bidder. But, he added, a review of the details shows that “our priced delivered came in $298 per unit higher for a total of $2,980 of which at least half is tax.”
Wilmot said that it would help if local dealers would participate in the state program, pointing out the process is easier and takes less time. With this RFP, which started in July, the sheriff’s department won’t be getting the trucks until January.
Dawson responded that his dealership is interested in serving the local community, not other counties. However, Dawson said in his letter that his dealership is listed as a bidder on the state procurement site and he has not seen a request for bids for F-150 trucks in two years.
The supervisors unanimously voted to award the bid to Alexander Ford.
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.