WACO, TX — City of Waco officials are responding to a story only 25 news brought you on Wednesday of upset entertainment vendors that were passed over as the city contracted a non-local vendor for Fourth on the Brazos events.
"Our parks and rec staff is dedicated and has policies in place that are geared towards protecting the taxpayer by trying to get the lowest bid," says Waco Mayor Dillon Meek.
Local light, sound and stage companies like Summit Group Entertainment Services say the purpose for speaking out was to address the concern that local businesses need to be prioritized especially at a city level.
Now officials say they're open to conversation.
"We definitely want to promote and really encourage local businesses and utilize them when we can but at the same time we need to balance that out with being good stewards of the taxpayer's money," says Jonathan Cook, the Director for the City of Waco Parks and Recreation.
Cook had to choose the bid quote with the best value which was Dallas-Oklahoma-based company 'Miller Pro Audio.'
The out-of-town light, stage and sound business beat out local competition such as Summit Group Event Services as well as L&G sound.
Cooks says they received the following quotes from the companies:
- Miller Pro Audio - $11,580
- Summit Group Event Services - $15,000
- L&G Sound - $15,995
"You know you really have to look at the bottom line of operations you're providing but at the same time we want to encourage local vendors to keep applying and keep submitting quotes in the future," says Cook.
Paul Kocel, the owner of Summit Group Event Services says he's grateful for the opportunity to be considered, but by not going local it's a lose-lose for everyone involved.
"When we send our taxpayer dollars away and out of state or even to a different part of the state, that money goes there. That's not what we want. We want the money staying here reinvested locally and we want to keep the talent of people doing those types of jobs," says Kocel.
There are safeguards to prevent local vendors from being bid out by cheaper non-local competition, but when it's within a 3% price margin, it's fair game when it comes to selection.
"But we've seen that offset in some places of upwards of 20%, that's how desperately they want to consider local vendors over non-local vendors. And here's it's 3% and maybe that's something local government can look at."
25 News Reporter Joel Lopez asked Mayor Meek:
"With that being said in your opinion, do we have the right policies in place right now?"
"I think it's worth the discussion to evaluate to see if we do, I think it's worth further examination, and we'd be committed to doing that," says Meek.
Meek went on to say while no immediate change can happen, Kocel has started a conversation, and now it's a matter of finding the right balance between protecting taxpayers and supporting local businesses.
"We're excited to continue to work with listen from and hear from our local business community to ensure that we have the right policies in place," says Meek.
Mayor Meek encourages local businesses to continue placing bids for future events and welcomes the local entertainment companies to reach out to him to discuss what can be done to better support locals.
Fourth on the Brazos is set to return July 4th.
The free event will be held at Touchdown Alley next to McLane Stadium.
Gates open at 6 p.m., and the fireworks kick off at 9:15 p.m.