What is it worth to support local business? Some people say nothing: businesses should be compared on an apples-to-apples basis. Others say it should be given a great deal of consideration: local tax dollars should be spent locally.

The Santa Cruz City council will consider a measure today that will quantify its preference: three percent. The proposal, recommended by the city manager, will change how the city awards competitively bid contracts worth at least $10,000.

Under the new policy, the lowest bidder wouldn’t necessarily be awarded the contract. If a local business is within three percent of the lowest bid, the city will pay the difference to award the contract locally.

The cost for the proposed policy is difficult to calculate, the but the city will track and pay it, hoping the extra business will provide a jolt to the local economy.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

The City Council on Tuesday will consider increasing its own buy-local rules to give Santa Cruz businesses a leg up.

For competitive projects costing $10,000 or more, City Manager Martín Bernal has recommended the city choose a local bidder over the lowest bidder if the local business offers a price that comes within three percent of the low bid. The city would pay the difference, as do more than 110 other California cities including San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Barbara. The average difference paid by is 2.9 percent.

“It’s sort of a reinvestment,” Bernal said. “That’s part of the justification.”

Read the full article here.