By PETER HUSSMANN
The Newton City Council scrapped plans to implement a "Buy Local" policy and then did just that in approving the purchase of a higher cost pick-up truck from a local car dealership.
Two weeks ago, the council discussed implementing a "Buy Local" policy that would give preference to local vendors of goods and services if bids are within various percentage thresholds. However, several council members at the time questioned the need for such a policy since the council already attempted to give such consideration to local businesses.
The proposal rejected by the council on Monday would have allowed a 5 percent preference, up to a maximum of $5,000 per purchase, to a vendor whose business was located within the city limits. The policy would not pertain to purchases involving a formal bidding process or for purchases that includes funds from another government entity.
Council members rejected the proposal saying they already have latitude in buying local on a case-by-case basis.
"I believe in competitive bids and we always reserve the right to make a final decision," said council member Steve Mullan in opposing the policy. "I think we do a good job."
And two agenda items later, the council made good on that promise by approving the $21,613 purchase of a Ford pick-up truck for the parks department from Noble Ford in Newton even though its bid was about $1,300 (6.3 percent) higher than the low bid from Steve Link Ford in Grinnell.
Council member Jim Plumb was the only member to vote against the purchase saying the expenditure of an additional $1,300 "in this budget" was unacceptable.