Bay County Commissioners vote to do away with local preference

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For the past seven years, Bay County has given local businesses an upper hand when it comes to bidding on projects in the area. But commissioners said due to recent problems, they’ve had to re-evaluate this code.

“We’re referring to the indictments in Lynn Haven, yes,” Bay County Commissioner Griff Griffitts said.

Griffitts was in the majority to get rid of local preference at Tuesday’s Bay County Commission meeting.

“A lot of the contractors are getting swallowed up or getting painted with the same brush as a few bad apples and that’s unfortunate because we have a lot of stand-up guys who do a lot of great work and we’ll continue to work with them in the future. It’s just right now, the local preference is just not good business for Bay County,” Griffitts said.

County leaders said the ordinance has been used twice since put into place in 2014.

“So it’s actively not a factor in how things play out. While it seems great in theory, we want to keep the money local. We want to hire locals. It just hasn’t been applicable over the last seven years,” Griffitts said.

Commissioner Bill Dozier was the only one to vote in favor of keeping the ordinance, which he said was because he was there when the code was written.

“I think the way it’s written that when you’re dealing with apples to apples with contractors, that it does benefit the people of Bay County,” Dozier said.

But Dozier said he understands why the board voted to do away with it.

And in response to the contractors who took a stand at the meeting, Griffitts said none of them had ever lost a bid on local preference and he can’t imagine they will lose a bid in the future based on an out-of-town contractor. Griffitts added that the local contractors in our area do good work and will continue to do good work.

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