By Jill Fox
“Buy local,” a phrase often used to offer support to small businesses and farmers market vendors has become an official resolution in the City of Parkland despite the unexpected controversy passing with a three to two vote.
The resolution states that when the city sponsors an event, program or activity and purchases food, beverages, supplies, and other items for a said event, the city should seek to use local vendors where the expenditure is less than $500.
Easy enough, right?
However, on November 20, the agenda item was clearly a point of contention with multiple questions from commission members.
Commissioners Ken Cutler and Stacey Kagan voted against “Buy Local,” which is important to note, not a city ordinance, but rather a resolution.
Cutler said he’s all for supporting every business in our community, but when elected officials start going down the path of putting down what the staff can and cannot do, he has concerns — even though staff works for the taxpayers.
“It’s more a procedural thing than anything else for me, and that’s why I voted no because I don’t think it’s the right procedure,” said Cutler.
As an attorney, he said his concern is the “in your best judgment” kind of language, which is completely subjective. When you have that kind of language there, it creates issues, and that’s where conflict comes in.”
However, Mayor Christine Hunschofsky explained resolutions are about giving guidance and looking at local options first. In some cases, it will be practicable, and some it won’t.
“Sometimes, we just get into the habit of buying where we buy from, and we want to make sure that the local options are the first ones we look at,” said Hunschofsky, adding that supporting local restaurants and businesses is vital in any city.
Examples brought up were city-hosted gatherings, like breakfast and lunch meetings at city hall, but would also include small-scale events, where practical.
Hunschofsky said the whole idea behind the resolution was for the city to be the example.
“It’s to focus on buying local where it’s practical and always look at our local options before we go somewhere else,” she said, “It’s being a good partner to our local businesses.”