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City Buys Truck Out-of-Town

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

City Buys Truck Out-of-Town

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
December 19, 2007

Last night’s Woodstock City Council Agenda carried an item involving an expected approval to purchase a $27,000 Chevrolet truck from Gary Lang, a McHenry dealership. When I spotted that item on the Agenda, I knew it was a meeting not to miss.

Because I believe strongly that major purchases should be made from hometown businesses, I went to the Council meeting, hoping to be able to address the Council. The purchase was part of the Consent Agenda, which the Council approves in one sweeping vote. Council members can “pull” an item for discussion, and the public is given an opportunity to request that an item be pulled for discussion. If the public does so, then a Council member must agree and make the formal request.

At the appropriate time I requested that the item be pulled, and Councilwoman Julie Dillon supported my request.

I addressed the City Council about the importance of making such a vehicle purchase at a Woodstock dealership, if at all possible. If the local dealership could not obtain a vehicle to the specifications needed or if the price were far out of line, then the local dealership would lose out. But, if the bid were close, the local dealership ought to get the nod.

City Attorney Rich Flood explained the State law. The lowest responsible bidder gets the business. Home-rule cities can opt for a difference process, allowing a reasonable purchase that is not the lowest bid.

I don’t have any connection to Reichert Chevrolet but, as a former Chamber of Commerce executive of an 1,100-member chamber outside of Illinois, I felt strongly that Reichert should have been awarded the purchase. Reichert is a long-time Woodstock business, and its sales generate thousands of dollars of sales tax revenue every year for the City of Woodstock. Also, it is convenient for any warranty work or repairs. Its Woodstock location removes the expense of lengthy travel time for one or more City employees to take a new vehicle to McHenry for service.

The City of Woodstock has mechanics who can perform most maintenance to vehicles, and the City buys vehicles with common parts, when possible, reducing large inventory requirements. Of course, with a dealership at the edge of town and several auto parts stores, no significant parts inventory should be necessary.

Was the Chamber of Commerce executive director there last night to voice support of a local purchase? No! Should he have been there? Yes!

The City of Woodstock should figure out a way to keep a $27,778 Chevrolet purchase at home. If Reichert moved to Hebron or Harvard or into the County, Woodstock would have another commercial property vacant and would lose considerable yearly sales tax revenues. Gary Lang would expect to get business from the City of McHenry. Reichert should get Woodstock’s business.

I appreciated the Council’s attention last night, and I urge the public to read the Agenda for the Woodstock City Council meetings online at www.woodstockil.gov Show up and hear what is happening. If you want to know what the Council is doing, speak up at the meetings and ask questions. It’s not enough to just watch them vote or read about it in the next day’s paper. Know on what they are voting, before they vote on it.

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