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Businesses Say NJPA Agreement Would Cut Them Out

Updated: Thursday, July 10 2014, 10:07 AM CDT
SPRINGFIELD -- Tuesday night, several aldermen voiced their concerns about signing a joint purchasing agreement with the National Joint Powers Alliance, and today, businesses spoke out, too.

The city used its agreement with the Minnesota-based agency to justify its controversial NAPA contract, though there turned out to be nothing that allowed it to do so. So mayor Houston is trying to get aldermen to change city code and allow the city to skip the competitive bidding process if the NJPA already has a contract.

But some aldermen are worried that will cut local business out of the competition, and some businesses say that's already happened with the NAPA contract.

Kevin Pierce, who runs Brake & Clutch Exchange was upset when he heard about the NAPA contract.

"It wasn't fair, I didn't feel," Pierce said.

Pierce says he'll lose $40,000-50,000 worth of city business because of the city's agreement with NAPA to run the city garage's parts room. He says he didn't have a chance to bid on that business.

Allowing that to continue with more purchases based on bids done by the NJPA, he says, is short sighted.

"What they're doing is really going to cut out the independent, small businesses in Springfield," he said.

Lou Neuf, the manager at Springfield Battery, is not a fan either. He says the NAPA deal will cost him $25,000 to $35,000, and the alliance contracts could cost others, too.

"Yeah, if they would buy everything through this buyer from Minnesota, it would have to cut out a lot of local businesses," Neuf said.

But city officials say they're barely buying anything through the alliance. Budget director Bill McCarty says the city has only used the alliance contract a few times.

Last year, he says it was only used twice.

"And in both instances, we received a good that is not available through a local dealer," he said.

Besides, McCarty says, the city has the same sort of joint purchasing agreements with the federal government and the State of Illinois, which they use frequently.

But there is a bit of a difference there between NJPA and Illinois contracts

Neuf said he receives daily invitations to bid on projects from the state.

What about the NJPA?

"Never heard of 'em," Neuf said. "Until I went to city council meetings."

McCarty also pointed out both Brake & Clutch and Springfield Battery would not have been able to fulfill the "parts room" role the city was looking for. Furthermore, he said the NAPA contract includes a local vendor clause for parts NAPA doesn't have.

Aldermen will vote next week on whether to allow a joint purchasing agreement with the National Joint Powers Alliance. At least three aldermen have already said they will vote against it.Businesses Say NJPA Agreement Would Cut Them Out

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