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It is wise for government officials to use all the tools they can in the tool box when it comes to economic development, so Hollister Council members are on the right path in giving a bidding preference to local vendors that are interested in city contracts. They veered off that path of logic, however, in choosing to exclude businesses in San Benito County that are outside city limits.
Although the potential broader economic impact from such a measure is minimal, giving the 5 percent bidding preference to local vendors of “goods and services” offers them a leg up in a time when every small advantage can make a big difference for individual businesses. It certainly won’t put a major dent in the city and San Benito County’s wider economic misfortunes, but the reality is that local governments aren’t equipped to provide any single solution or to invest taxpayers’ money in risky ventures with prospectively big payoffs. All they can do is enact as much pro-business legislation as possible – using as few dollars as possible – and see if some of the ideas pan out.
That is why it is a positive indication to see Hollister council members and staff officials on board with an idea that – when applicable – is bound to keep tax dollars local and ensure some of the funds are invested back into the local economy. Limiting the bid preference to 5 percent also lessens any chance that taxpayers might lose out in the long term by shrinking the pool of interested businesses, and restricting competitive forces in the city’s favor.
Council members unanimously supported the bid preference idea at last week’s meeting. They have one more final approval on the matter set for Oct. 15. The 5 percent preference would affect expenses on a range of goods and services, but would not include construction contracts. It was modeled after a similar resolution at the county, which provides a 10 percent preference.
Hollister finance official Robert Galvan did not have an estimate readily available regarding dollars spent on such goods and services – a sign that the financial impact would be nominal to the city budget and the Hollister economy, and also that council members once again made a decision without having utmost clarity on the impact.
When council members do consider the item for final approval Oct. 15, they should strongly consider holding off and amending the resolution to include county businesses in the preference mix. Galvan’s only reasoning for excluding the county was that he contended it would be a problem if a city and county business submitted the same bid amount. We don’t see that as a problem. We see that likely rare occurrence as a benefit because it would allow council members to ultimately decide which vendor provides better goods or services for the same dollar amount.
As for the economic impacts, meanwhile, residents throughout the county shop at the same shops, eat at the same restaurants and consider themselves part of one community. There would be just as much benefit to the Hollister economy by providing the preference to county businesses, whose owners and employees shop here and pay taxes here, too.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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