A Chickasha City Council discussion lead to a conflict between bid price and supporting local businesses.
The council discussed accepting a janitorial services bid for buildings owned by the city on Monday night.
Council member Mark Keeling questioned the chosen bid, from National Facilities of Oklahoma City on the grounds that T&S Cleaning—while a higher bid—is a local business.
The National Facilities bid was in the amount of $5,595 per month and T&S Cleaning's bid was set for $5,740 per month.
Keeling said that T&S Cleaning was not that much higher than National Facilities per month, and he felt the city council should prioritize using local businesses. Keeling said the extra cost would be fed back into Chickasha through supporting a local business.
Keeling asked the council to reexamine the T&S Cleaning bid. Council member, Howard Carpenter was in agreement with Keeling. Cody Turpin also voted against accepting the bid from the Oklahoma City company.
Mayor Hank Ross said that while he could appreciate wanting to support local Chickasha businesses, he was concerned that changing the bid at the last minute could hurt the integrity of the bidding process and alienate nonlocal vendors. Ross said the council had not specified to city staff that a local business was priority.
"I think we're on a very slippery slope," Ross said.
Chickasha City Manager, John Noblitt, said the acceptance of either bid was the decision of the city council.
Keeling said that last year, the Chickasha City Council accepted the highest bid for janitorial services.
Council member and Vice Mayor, Kimmy Loggins said the bid process included not only the lowest bid, but the lowest qualified bid. This includes the satisfaction of the services.
Council member Jerry Pittman asked if the council might be setting a bad precedence by accepting a bid on the grounds that it is local even if it is more expensive.
"Where do we draw the line?" Pittman asked.
Keeling said his constituents were concerned that local businesses were not being chosen for city services.
Keeling said that he only received information about the bids on Friday afternoon, a complaint that Keeling has expressed at meetings in the past.
Loggins responded that these bids were available at a work session one week ago.
"Are we going to do this on every single bid?" Loggins asked.
Keeling asked why a more expensive bid was chosen last year. Loggins said the only information they had in front of them right now was the numbers and bids for this year, therefore the question could not be immediately answered.
The city manager, while leaving the final decision up to the council, indicated council needed to move forward.
"This is an important item, but this is a long conversation for something pretty cut and dry," Noblitt said. City staff advised that in order to reject the bid from National Facilities, the city would need to include a report explaining why the bid was not chosen.
In the end, City Council moved to accept the bid from National Facilities with Keeling, Turpin and Carpenter voting against the motion.