Much like its counterparts in other communities, the Meadow Lake and District Chamber of Commerce views these two words as a key message all consumers must heed to ensure businesses located in Meadow Lake continue to strive rather than struggle to survive. It’s also simple common sense – if a business is to succeed, it needs local support.
This is why it’s disappointing the City of Meadow Lake recently decided to purchase a new vehicle for community safety officer Joe Hallahan from a business in North Battleford rather than choosing one of the several auto dealers right here in the local community.
According to city officials, the decision to purchase the truck – a Dodge 1500 – from an out-of-town dealership was made as part of a group purchase with the City of North Battleford. This allows Meadow Lake to cut down on the overall cost of purchasing the vehicle as well as on the necessary retrofit to meet CSO requirements. Also, North Battleford had already selected the dealership it would purchase from, while Meadow Lake officials said – if a local dealership had been chosen – the offers presented would have exceeded the $63,000 set aside for the vehicle in this year’s municipal budget.
If this is indeed the case, so be it. It only makes sense city council would want to save as much money as possible, especially if they can find the exact same product at a lower cost somewhere else.
Therein lies the question, however. Is the vehicle the city ultimately decided to purchase the same one they received quotes for from the local dealerships? According to Jeff Fechter, owner of Northland Chrysler in Meadow Lake, it isn’t. Fechter said at no time did the city approach his company with a tender for a Dodge 1500 or for a pickup truck of any kind. Instead, he claims the city tendered a car and an SUV.
Even if bids from the Meadow Lake dealerships still turned out to be higher than what was offered through North Battleford, the playing field should have remained level and everyone should have been given a fair chance at making the best offer.
Fechter, meanwhile, said he has no problem with the city making the purchase in another community, as long as his price is beaten fairly. Whether or not this was the case remains questionable at best.
As it currently stands, the city is set to save at least a few thousand dollars by choosing the North Battleford option. This keeps them slightly below budget for the new CSO vehicle, but – if what Fechter said is true – it’s like comparing liverwurst to aged cheese and, whichever way you slice them, they both stink.