Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Engineers Offer New Terms for City to Decide Contracts; They Oppose a Bill That Would Give Preference to Locally Based Firms

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Engineers Offer New Terms for City to Decide Contracts; They Oppose a Bill That Would Give Preference to Locally Based Firms

Article excerpt

Byline: TIA MITCHELL

A group of engineers representing companies based in Jacksonville and those with headquarters elsewhere have worked on a compromise to a controversial bill intended to funnel city contracts to locally based firms.

The compromise, if accepted by the City Council, would avoid a rewrite of the city's procurement code as outlined in the original bill, filed by Councilman Daniel Davis. Instead, the current formula for scoring proposals would not change. If there are tie scores, the contracts would be awarded to companies with offices in Duval County.

Davis' proposal would increase the importance of proximity, or how closely tied companies are to Jacksonville, by giving companies headquartered in the city more points in the scoring process than those that aren't.

Davis said Monday he was still reviewing the engineers' compromise and was open to their suggestions. However, he said his intent remains to steer city dollars to companies headquartered in Jacksonville.

"If there is a more simple way to do it, I'm willing to look at it," he said. "I think this is a good idea, but definitely there is going to be some changes that have to be made to it."

The bill and proposed compromise will be discussed today during the Seaport and Airport Special Committee's meeting at 4 p.m. However, in light of the engineers' proposal, Davis said there is no longer a need to hold the previously announced public hearing.

His bill has faced vocal criticism from engineering and construction-management firms headquartered elsewhere but with long-standing Jacksonville offices. They complained that the new scoring system would make it nearly impossible for them to obtain city contracts.

John Finotti, a spokesman for a coalition of about 15 firms opposed to Davis' proposal, said the idea for the compromise was first discussed at a meeting last week of a local chapter of an engineering organization. …

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