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Orange County Focus

COSTA MESA : City Delays on Car Bids to Study Options

January 22, 1992|MARY ANNE PEREZ

The City Council has delayed buying new police cars from a Ford dealership in El Cajon, hoping to find some way to award the contract to a local dealer.

El Cajon Ford led the pack of seven dealerships with a low bid of $575,000 for 37 new police cars and anticipated receiving approval from council members Tuesday night. But the tough economy prompted the council to try to keep the city's business among local merchants, as much as possible.

"I have a real discomfort in these times toward sending this business out of town," Councilman Peter F. Buffa said.

By city ordinance, the council must award the contract to the lowest qualified bidder and not give preference to local bidders, City Manager Allan L. Roeder said.

City Atty. Thomas Kathe will look into the city's options, such as rejecting all the bids and starting the process from scratch or accepting staff's recommendation to award the contract to El Cajon Ford.

"If they reject all the bids, they have to make some finding (such as) that there is some defect in the bids or the submittals or that they came in over budget," Roeder said.

The council will review information from Kathe's office to see if it can legally reopen the bid process. The decision to award the contract was delayed until Feb. 3.

Some council members asked for caution in seeking to grant local businesses the contract if they will charge considerably more than an out-of-town dealership.

Theodore Robins Ford, which has leased police cars to the city over the past 30 years, came in last with the high bid of $787,000. Another local dealer, Connell Chevrolet, came in fourth place with a bid of $620,000. The local bids were $212,000 and $45,000 higher than the low bid, respectively.

"The thing I'd like to point out is the Costa Mesa taxpayers would end up paying that difference," Councilman Joe Erickson said. "We need to watch out for them too."

The city decided to buy the cars instead of leasing them after city maintenance workers told officials that they could maintain the vehicles better than the dealership. The current lease expires in April.

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