Richmond legals debate continues over cost, loyalties

Two holdovers from the former Richmond City Council want to continue publishing city legals and advertisements in Lawson.
Last month, members of the Ordinance Committee instructed City Administrator Rick Childers to stop sending legals to the Lawson Review and to resume printing in The Daily News.
In February, the council removed language that required the city to publish their legals and bids in a newspaper published in Richmond. After the ordinance was passed, the city immediately moved their business to Lawson.
Councilman Jason Berning raised concerns about the language in the proposed ordinance that would restore the original wording and require the city to use an official newspaper according to state statute.
“Could we have an ordinance that makes us more competitive if our budget is tight?” Berning asked.
Councilman Mike Wright said he thinks the city should try to keep business in Richmond. Mayor Lance Green said the city does that with a 5 percent allowance. Green was referring to language in the ordinance that considers a local company to be the lowest bidder if the bid is within 5 percent of the actual lowest bid. Items must be placed out for bid if the amount is more than $5,000.
“My whole point in saying a word is from the comparison I think we need to save every dollar we can save,” Berning said. “We give them five percent preference.”
Councilman Dave Powell pointed to one example on the comparison and expressed concern over the gap between costs.
“It’s three times higher,” Powell said. “I can see 5, 10, 50 percent. Three hundred percent seems a little high.”
In 2008, the city of Richmond spent a total of $3,668 on legal advertising with The Daily News. Of that amount, $1,666 was spent on a multi-page tax bill that ran three consecutive Fridays. An additional $320.38 was paid in help wanted ads.
City Clerk Robin Littrell provided the council with a cost comparison. Her comparison, however, did not include cost per household figures or that most legals are published and distributed to an additional 9,000 households through the Town and Country Leader East shopper for free.
Wright said the intent of the ordinance is to inform the citizens of Richmond.
“I think the intent was to be able to inform the people that live in Richmond,” Wright said. “We’re just wanting to give the local people a shot at it and keep them informed.”
Councilman Bob Bond said a resident expressed some frustration to him.
“I talked to one person who wanted to bid on some things and had no idea because it was in the Lawson paper,” Bond said.
Councilwoman Terrie Stanley said she had spoken with The Daily News Legals Editor Kim Tyler last week. She said Tyler was helpful and willing to work with the city.
The council tabled the ordinance until more information can be provided.

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