After throwing out a bidding process to buy 10 new police patrol cars, the City Council voted unanimously Monday night to have the city negotiate directly with a local vendor.
The companies with the top two lowest bids withdrew their proposals after they were unable to secure the desired police vehicles, according to city officials.
At the same time, all three remaining bidders had preparation issues with their bids.
"Each and every one of the remaining three had not followed the directions contained within the bid documents one way or another," said Director of Public Works Stan Murdock.
The council voted to reject the proposal process and directed the city's purchasing supervisor to negotiate with the lowest of the three bidders, Merced Chevrolet.
The decision is a "no-brainer," said Councilman Josh Pedrozo. "We encourage our residents to buy things in Merced, especially bigger purchases like vehicles, like appliances."
The rest of the council expressed enthusiastic support, as well.
"I certainly have no objection to moving forward in this direction," said Councilwoman Mary-Michal Rawling.
Councilman Noah Lor agreed: "We always preach about buy local, shop local, benefit local. I really want to emphasize and support the idea."
The owner of Merced Chevrolet, Wil Dean, made his pitch during the meeting: "We have 46 employees, most of which live and spend their dollars in this community. I'm asking the city to buy local, to keep its dollars within this local community."
During the meeting, the council found there was a "critical need" for replacing police vehicles, several of which have been totaled in crashes.
Because of the economic downturn, the city stopped purchasing patrol vehicles in 2008, according to city officials. In the past, the city has run patrol cars three or four years before renting them out.
"We knew that there was an emergency coming that at some point would require the purchase of vehicles," Murdock said. "We had hoped to get through this year and put it in the normal budget process. However, during the current fiscal year, we've had a variety of issues."
The Public Works Department is proposing that this year's budget include an additional 20 patrol vehicles.
Under the direction of the council, the city will pay no more than $329,601 to buy 10 2014 Chevrolet Caprices. The council approved $495,031 to outfit the police cars with standard law enforcement technology.
Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.