McHenry weighs value of shopping local for vehicles

McHENRY – Shopping locally is worth an extra $153 per car, the McHenry City Council decided in a 6-1 vote.

The routine purchase of six vehicles – replacing five in the police department and one in the public works department – was sidetracked by a conversation over whether the city should go with a local dealer or the lower proposal.

Staff had made the recommendation to go with the local dealer for the four new cars – another two will be bought used – because the money stays in the community, and it builds goodwill between the municipality and local businesses, City Administrator Derik Morefield said.

This type of evaluation takes place in other communities as well.

The city of Woodstock, for example, doesn’t have a policy, but staff does take whether the business is local into consideration in developing its recommendation, Woodstock City Manager Roscoe Stelford said.

How much extra the city is willing to spend depends on the total price of the product and what the difference is as a percentage, he said. For a car, a 1 to 2 percent difference could amount to a couple of hundred dollars.

“By shopping local, you support your own economy,” Roscoe said. “They pay taxes into your local government. They provide jobs, in many cases, to residents of the community.”

McHenry Alderman Andy Glab – the sole “no” vote – said he did not think paying more was an appropriate use of tax dollars.

“We have no advantage to staying local as far as the taxpayers,” he said. “There are other programs where we support our businesses with, but to support them by paying more, I just don’t get it.”

The other aldermen disagreed.

“There is advantage to the taxpayers in keeping businesses thriving in McHenry,” Alderwoman Geri Condon. “The last thing we want to do is not patronize our local shops and businesses, although certainly we have to be aware. If there’s a significant difference, we should go where we can get the best deal for the taxpayers.”

This issue has come up before, Alderman Victor Santi said; the last time, the council decided to go with the cheaper dealer. Santi added that shopping local builds relationships, for which a value can’t be placed.

The local dealer, Buss Ford, offered a base price of $24,184 per vehicle, according to council documents. Currie Motors in Frankfort had the lowest bid in the Ford suburban purchasing cooperative with a base price of $23,406 per vehicle, but the city also would have to pay to get the cars to McHenry if it decided to go with the Frankfort dealership. That cost was $125 per car, Morefield said.

Through Buss Ford, Ford Motor Credit offered $500 in concessions per car, bringing the difference in buying local to $153 per car.

The city replaces vehicles when the cost of maintenance outweighs the value of the vehicles, according to council documents. The six cars to be replaced are between 6 and 13 years old, all with at least 100,000 miles on them.

(Note to readers: This story has been corrected to fix a factual error. Because comments on this story were based on earlier errors, we have chosen to disable comments on this story.)

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