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Bulloch commissioners ask: So what exactly is local?
County commissioners, heavy-equipment vendors discuss the definition
W Bulloch County Seal

At its May 20 meeting, the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners also took the following actions:

    Granted an alcoholic beverage license for the sale of package beer and wine to Buddy’s Truck Stop, 8741 U.S. Highway 301 S.

    Appointed John Lavender to the Development Authority of Bulloch County’s board of directors, to fill the unexpired term of Terry Reeves. Reeves retired from his position as area manager for Georgia Power Co. and moved out of Bulloch County. Lavender, who works in public accounting and has a background in commercial construction, has previously served as a member of the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau’s board.

    Awarded a bid to replace the roof at the Honey Bowen Building for $68,900 to Chandler Roofing and Specialty Metals. This was prompted by damage to the roof caused by the winter ice storm.

More than half of last week’s Bulloch County Board of Commissioners meeting was consumed by discussion of such heavy equipment items as motor graders and backhoe loaders, and the vendors bidding to provide those services to the county.

Much of that hour-plus discussion centered on what exactly constitutes a local vendor because Yancey Brothers, a Caterpillar equipment dealer with locations around the state, including on U.S. Highway 301 South outside Statesboro, asserted that it is in fact local to Bulloch County.

The county had determined that Yancey was not a local vendor, but Yancey representatives appealed to the commissioners Tuesday,
insisting the company is local because the Statesboro location provides full service. People can go in and buy new equipment and get repairs to equipment. The company also pays Bulloch County occupational and sales taxes for its Highway 301 facility, said Alan Arnsdorff, a regional sales representative for Yancey.

What exactly is “local” is important because the county has a “local buying preference,” which allows vendors with that designation whose bids come within 5 percent of the lowest bid for a county purchase to rebid at the lower price.

The county’s definition says that to qualify, a company must have “a principal business location within the boundaries of Bulloch County.” The company must demonstrate that “the goods or services to be procured by the County are either made, stored, processed, sold or rendered at such establishment or facility; and, that substantial administrative or management activities related to the establishment or facility are performed by one or more employees, principals, representatives or agents for the purpose of transacting business,” the definition states.

Arnsdorff said he is not technically based at any one location, and that sales representatives may or may not be present at any given time in Statesboro. He said he uses the company’s Pooler location when giving an address for where he is based because more of his business is closer to Savannah.

Facts like that, County Manager Tom Couch said during the commissioners’ May 20 meeting, are what led county staff to determine that Yancey is not local, and therefore not subject to the local bidding preference.

“The main sticking point for me, personally, is that nothing has been produced to suggest that (Yancey’s Statesboro facility) is a point-of-sale location for this type of equipment,” Couch said.

Tom Duncan, a sales manager for Yancey, said: “We have local management there. We have local administration there. We have everything it takes to run a complete store, complete operation at the facility here in Bulloch County. So it’s not like it’s handled out of somewhere else. I guess my question is, what do we lack, being a local vendor?”

Marty Ward, territory manager for Border Equipment Co., whose company does not have a Statesboro location and does not receive the local preference, argued that Yancey “knew or should have known” that it should have submitted evidence that it’s a local vendor during — not after — the bidding process.

Border, a Case Construction dealer, had submitted the apparent low bid for the purchase in question, two backhoe loaders for a total five-year net price of $97,700. Yancey’s bid was $101,300, which is 3.7 percent higher and, therefore, within the 5 percent range allowed for a local vendor to be given the opportunity to match the lower bid.

The actual price is $167,700 for the two backhoe loaders from Border, and $188,982 from Yancey. But the bid is based on the five-year net cost, which includes a guarantee that the vendor will buy back the equipment after five years. Border’s buyback price after five years is $70,000, reducing the five-year net cost to $97,700, while Yancey’s is $87,682, reducing that net cost to $101,300.

In the end, commissioners were swayed by Arnsdorff’s arguments and, after much discussion, they approved classifying Yancey as a local vendor.

After all of that, when commissioners reached the time to vote on the backhoe loader bid, Commissioner Roy Thompson made a motion to reject Yancey’s bid for a different reason. Yancey, Thompson said, did not follow the bidding instructions and raised its five-year lease buyback price, while the other vendors did follow those instructions.

The board voted unanimously to award the bid to Border Equipment.

Other heavy equipment purchases approved by the commissioners last week were:

    One motor grader and sloper for a five-year net price of $139,152 from Yancey, and

    Two tandem-drive motor graders for a five-year net price of $178,08 from Yancey.

The county will use these pieces of heavy equipment as it works on resurfacing, paving and other road projects.

Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.

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