With a number of locally owned businesses struggling in this depressed economy, the rally cry from business owners and government officials is “buy local.” Shortly after the Mayor of Tallahassee started “buy local Saturday’s”, the City Commission adopted a local preference for city procurement with the goal of providing more business opportunities to locally owned businesses.
Tallahassee Reports has received numerous calls about the procurement procedures at City Hall. This report takes a look at the where the City is spending money on their mechanical and HVAC services for the approximately 23 City owned buildings.
On June 13, 2007 the Tallahassee City Commission “ approved the Selection committee’s ranking and recommendation of the following firms to provide industrial or commercial mechanical/HVAC services on an as-needed basis (RFQ 0040-07-ER-RC), and authorized staff to execute a three-year contract with each firm.”
The firms selected were Honeywell International, Keith Lawson Company, Johnson Controls, MED-HVAC, and Watts Mechanical. Of the five firms, three are locally owned. The locally owned firms are Keith Lawson Company, MED-HVAC, and Watts Mechanical.
Tallahassee Reports requested the expenditures for each vendor under the contract for mechanical/HVAC services. The City provided data is listed below.
CITY EXPENDITURES BY VENDOR
|Keith Lawson Company||$109,257||20.9%|
|Johnson Controls||$ 15,709||3.0%|
The above table shows that Honeywell International is getting 67% or $353,064 of the City’s expenditures and Keith Lawson Company, a locally owned company is a distant second with 21% of the expenditures.
This information raises a number of issues. First, why is Honeywell International getting so much of the work? It is no secret that Honeywell is a favorite vendor of the city. They currently have five separate contracts with the city.
Second, will this situation change with the new local preference ordinance? A review of the way the contract was written indicates that the local preference ordinance may have no effect. Why? Because the contract appears to give city staff the ability to basically call any vendor that is included in the contract. It would appear that the requests for proposal would have to be wriiten in a manner to accommodate the local preference ordinance.
Also, Tallahassee Reports has been told that the Honeywell is a registered foreign corporation. A contract with the City of Tallahassee was provided to Tallahassee Reports that listed Honeywell as “foreign profit corporation.”
Tallahassee Reports did obtain Honeywell invoices that indicated payments were being mailed to an address in New Jersey.
The findings indicate that there appears to be more the Tallahassee City Commission could do to help out the local economy and locally owned businesses.