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Local News

Joliet committee gives OK to local preference on city bids

JOLIET – New ordinances headed to the Joliet City Council for approval would give local companies an edge on city contracts, set new rules for resident participation at council meetings, and put a limit on temporary signs around town.

The Joliet Land Use and Legislative Committee voted Wednesday to recommend approval of all three ordinances, which have been in the works for months.

The proposal on bidding rules for city contracts was changed Wednesday to add Grundy County to the region deemed local. The ordinance also gives local preference to companies in Will and Kendall counties.

The local preference rules would not go into effect until January.

City staff wanted time to work out procedures for verifying that bidders qualify as local and how the bidding preference would be used.

“I think we want to be careful if we do this that we don’t increase the prices,” Public Works Director James Trizna said.

Local companies that do not submit lowest bids on city contracts would have an opportunity to match the lowest bid. But they could do so only if their bids fall within 2 percent of the lowest bid and are not more than $20,000 higher.

Trizna said there is a possibility that outside companies would stop bidding if they continuously lose contracts to local companies despite submitting low bids. That he said would reduce competition for city business.

The committee voted to send the ordinance to the full council for a vote April 21 to give staff time to finalize the ordinance for a vote.

“Before it goes to council, I want to be clear to council in telling them when it applies and when it doesn’t apply,” City Attorney Martin Shanahan said.

State and federal law would bar the use of the local preference on contracts involving federal money and road projects using state Motor Fuel Tax funds, Shanahan said. He said he needed to determine if there were other contracts where the local preference could not be used.

The committee considered holding off on a recommendation. But Councilman Jim McFarland, who proposed the legislation, said he wanted it to go to council for a vote.

“I want this implemented as soon as possible,” McFarland said. “Just like the state legislature, they approve laws and give a time to implement it. It happened with Obamacare. It happened with medical marijuana.”

Resident comments

Residents would get another minute to have their say during the public comments sections of City Council meetings, under the new rules recommended by the committee.

The rules would allow residents four minutes, instead of the three that are given now. The mayor could still give residents more time to speak with council approval.

The proposed ordinance, likely to go to the council for approval on April 7, includes other changes that loosen the rules for resident participation.

Temporary signs

An ordinance that would limit banners, balloons and other temporary signs placed in front of businesses also will go to the council for approval April 7.

In most cases, businesses would need to get 30-day permits to have a maximum of three temporary signs. Only two permits would be issued during the course of a year.

Exemptions would be allowed for real estate open houses, signs directing the public to special events, and signs used by nonprofit groups.

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