Regional vendor preference plan rejected in Hillsborough
Hillsborough County commissioners each said Wednesday that they support doing all they can to help local business owners. But facing opposition from leading business groups, a closely divided commission rejected a proposal to create a regional vendor preference ordinance.
The proposal from Les Miller was not a straight up locals-only proposal to give bonus points to local businesses seeking work from the county. Rather, it would have given bidders seeking county work who are runners up in the selection process to match the winning vendor's price. To earn that right, they would have had to submit an initial bid that was within a certain percentage point of the winning bid, with the qualifying difference varying depending on the value of the contract. The preference would have applied to businesses in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties.
Commissioner Mark Sharpe offered the most vocal opposition, saying that the last thing local government should be doing now is adding regulations that could hurt local businesses who seek work in other counties. In the end, Sandra Murman, who said she was on the fence, sided with the opposition, which also included Kevin Beckner. With Commissioner Al Higginbotham absent, the proposal died on a 3-3 tie. Miller said he didn't plan to bring the proposal back, saying he didn't believe he could craft a proposal that would win support from business groups.