Tucson's Preference For Local Businesses Under Fire

February 10, 2014

A conservative advocacy group is suing the city of Tucson over its contracting preference for local businesses.

The Goldwater Institute contends the preference violates constitutional provisions and a state law that protects the integrity of government procurement.

The preference, put in place in 2012, allows city contracts to be awarded to local companies even if they are not the low bidders.

Under the measure, local businesses can be awarded contracts if their bids are up to 5 percent higher than the lowest bid received by the city. There are smaller preferences for Arizona companies and for local owners of national franchises.

Attorneys for the Goldwater Institute contend the preference hurts taxpayers, but city officials defend it as a way to keep money in the local economy.