From an article by Jo Anne Killeen in the Onalaska Holmen Courier-Life:

The “buy local” argument that surfaced recently before the Holmen Village Board is an economic development issue and Holmen’s Economic Development Committee is putting together a proposal to present to the board that would change bid acceptance policies.

The issue was raised at last month’s board meeting when the board voted 5-2 to accept an out of town bid versus a more local bid. The “local” bid for a new squad car, which came from Sparta, was only $65 higher than the lowest bidder from Hartford. Trustee Nancy Proctor, along with Trustee Tony Szak were the two votes arguing to buy local.

The board also recently gave a bid to a West Salem company when a Holmen bidder was $46 higher.

“We ought to stay local with the economy the way it is,” Proctor said.

State law requires municipalities who put something out to bid to accept the lowest bid without preferences when there are no other local ordinances allowing them to do otherwise.

Trustee Ryan Olson, who chairs the economic development committee, said he sided with the majority on the squad car vote because of Village President John Chapman’s argument that the integrity of the bidding process was at stake.

Olson also said the decision might have been good government, but not good business. The committee members all agreed local procurement is an economic sustainability issue and discussed alternatives.

At the EDC meeting March 3, Olson said the village could do one of two things. It could develop, adopt and implement an ordinance and then wait to be challenged on it or it could approach state legislators to further define what “preference” means in state procurement laws.