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City will spend more to keep more locally

Staff writer

Call it leading by example. In light of a new countywide shop-local push spearheaded by the city of Marion, namely its economic development director Terry Jones, Marion City Council turned an otherwise-nominal purchase into a statement.

The city considered two bids Monday on a project to update the logos on Marion’s billboard advertisements: one a $2,176 offer from Knox Signs and Graphics in Topeka, the other a $3,159 bid from Western Associates in Marion. The council decided, upon recommendation from Jones and without much argument, to accept the local candidate’s bid for $983 more.

Jones requested a bid from Baker Bros. Printing in Hillsboro, but had not heard back prior to the meeting.

Jones cited a study to council that suggests 65 percent of money spent locally will stay local. Jones said the city would retain approximately $2,053 within its local economy if this holds true; compared with saving $983 by choosing a lower bid, the higher bid was actually preferable for the local economy. Jones also pointed out the sales tax would stay in the city and county rather than go to Topeka.

Noting the high price of the Western Associates bid, councilwoman Melissa Mermis asked Jones if he and City Administrator Roger Holter tried to get a lower price with Western Associates.

“While we do not share direct competitors’ bids in a proposal situation, we called for clarification,” Holter said. “We said, ‘We just wanted to make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples, here’s what it was, we do have a competitive bid that was significantly lower.’

“They came back with a revised estimate.”

Western Associates did “come down significantly” with its second bid, Jones said.

Holter pointed out that Knox Signs and Graphics is a manufacturer, whereas Western Associates is a distributor for a separate manufacturer. The retail markup contributed to the difference in price.

The project will cover nine billboards in 9-by-13 vinyl wraps — one foot wider and longer than the current billboard size, to wrap around the edges.

The signs will feature a new Marion logo, designed by Eric Meyer of Hoch Publishing. In addition to the vinyl wraps, a band stretching across the bottom third of the signs will be used for the signs; the cost of the bands was not included in the bids.

Even though council rejected basic financial policy of accepting the lowest bid, the hope is that purchasing locally will benefit the community.

“I’m required to point out to council that our financial policies statement does indicate that we are to take the lowest bid for services,” City Administrator Roger Holter said.

The council voted unanimously to accept the Western Associates bid.

The signs will be installed by city crews.

In other business:

  • Council approved Ordinance 1381, concerning private use and care of public right of way.
  • Council approved proposed changes to zoning regulations for adoption.
  • Kelsey Metro was appointed to the planning commission.

Last modified Oct. 16, 2014

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