County Hoping To Go Local With Contractor Work

SNOW HILL – Elected officials plan to boost the local economy in a small way by focusing the bid award for a new trash transfer station on county-based contractors.

Worcester County Commissioner Bobby Cowger, who represents the Pocomoke area, said Tuesday that he hoped the county could put together its own stimulus package for local industry by selecting a local company, if feasible. He pointed out many contractors are hurting for work and in need of jobs to stay afloat and keep their employees compensated.

“We said we’re going to try to do everything to push this work toward a local contractor,” he said.

Half the potential bidders targeted by the county for the Bishopville trash transfer station bid are not from Worcester County, he said.

According to Cowger, there are at least four county-based contractors planning to bid on the project. The county, he said, should target local contractors by directly sending them bid information, while still permitting bids by out-of-county or out-of-state bidders.

Some bidders from outside the area do use local subcontractors, Commission President Louise Gulyas said.

If the commission limited the bid award to county companies, 100 percent of the money would stay in the county, Cowger said.

“We need to look out after our local people and our local contractors if legally we can do it,” Cowger said. “At least it opens the opportunity up to protect our people.”

“Point well taken,” Gulyas said.

The only requirement as far as bid requests and awards under local code is public notice.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that all you will receive will be Worcester County bids. There may be folks from other places that pick this up,” Worcester County attorney Sonny Bloxom said.    

The commissioners can legally consider a business’s location and other factors when awarding bids, according to the attorney. The commissioners are also not required to accept the lowest bid for any project.

Cowger then suggested shortening the period between the request for proposals and the due date for the bids, to give local companies the work more quickly.

“Two weeks is plenty enough time for this type bid,” he said.

The county must advertise the request for proposals, said Public Works Director John Tustin, but he said he would look at the dates.

“There’s so many contractors who want to get work out here,” Cowger said.