The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Plainfield/Union County printing deal: Designed to hurt local businesses?


Proposal is to outsource Plainfield's printing to Union County.
Tonight, Plainfield's City Council will discuss a proposal put forward by the Director of Administration and Finance to enter into an agreement with Union County for the county to provide printing and sign-making services for the City.

I hope that the Council looks into this proposal closely, whatever its final decision may be.

Let me discuss the PRINTING aspect. When I was at City Hall, Plainfield was repeatedly approached to give its printing business to the County's print shop.

I believe the City was spending at the time about $32,000 per year for printing, postage and mailing services -- perhaps $18-20,000 of that amount being for printing alone.

While there would -- at least initially -- have been a slight cost savings, I pointed out to Mayor McWilliams that our printing orders were going directly to Plainfield businesses who employed Plainfield residents and paid Plainfield taxes.

None of that could be said for using the County.

In fact, the County, exempt as it is from paying taxes on purchases, was in a position of competing unfairly with the small local shops on which municipalities rely for their print jobs. And that just seemed to me to go against the grain of what American private enterprise is all about.

There are two things I hope the Council will bear in mind as it considers this resolution.

First, that while Plainfield may not loom large in the scheme of things, if the County is trying to get all 21 municipalities on board that is a much larger deal, and consideration should be given to the numbers of small businesses which are hanging on by their fingernails in the current economic climate.

It would be a shame to think that government would knowingly push them over the edge.

Secondly, the Council should enquire as to whether Plainfield's situation is the same as it was formerly. If there are no print shops in the City, employing Plainfield residents and paying Plainfield taxes who could possibly do the work, then it would be easy enough to sign off on the deal.

But the questions should be asked.





-- Dan Damon [follow]

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

You make one point, however, that is disturbing. If all 21 municipalities sign up, we are now left at the County's mercy for pricing. And, considering the nepotism and greed that permeates NJ politics, my vote is to let Plainfield run its own shop. At least there are better controls - not great controls - but at least the citizens can monitor it better.

Bob said...

Since our Counry government is so corrupt, I hope Planfield will not add to the graft and make a deal with the County. I don't trust the County to do anything properly, any more than I expect that from Plainfield City Hall, so I hope the City Council thinks carefully about this.

Anonymous said...

Dan, It is bad enough that the Mayor does not reguire her top administation to live in the city as per our charter,but for her to even consider for ONE MINUTE to take away business from a local Plainfield business is just not acceptable! The next thing you know we will have a Mayor and Council that live out of town.

Anonymous said...

Dan- How can this city council even for a second think about taking business our of Plainfield? When they were sworn in didn't they promise to do their best for Plainfield and it's citizens? SHAME SHAME on them for even considering taking business out of town!

Anonymous said...

Dan we are glad you are back and feeling better. I am outraged that the mayor and council would even think of taking business out of our Queen City. Maybe we should call channel 7 shame on you to come to Plainfield to uncover the real reason the Mayor wants to take business out of Plainfield,and the real story behind the $20,000.

Anonymous said...

Your post presents the false dichotomy of choosing between Plainfield's print shops, if there are any of consequence, or using the county's print facility. How about a third way: buying printing over the internet from the lowest cost, best quality suppliers.

That's what hundreds of thousands of buyers have been doing for the last ten years, streamlining their purchasing and saving tens of millions of dollars. If you can buy something from Amazon or upload a photo to your Facebook page you can order printing online.

Does anyone really believe that the county's captive shop will be cheaper than online printers? That county employees will be easier to work with? That the buying process will be more convenient? That the range of equipment will be wider? That the delivery times will be faster? If so, you're dreaming.

Rounding up municipalities to become captive users of the county print shop is not much different than awarding engineering contracts to "preferred vendors" - a governmental form of crony capitalism based on contributions and patronage that consistently will yield less for more.

Anonymous said...

Well, just what are the City's Printing needs?

Multi Form Paper for Purchase Orders? What else?

Business Cards - Try VistaPrint,com for excellent pricing

Oh yeah - fancy letterhead when staff can just have a letterhead designed with word and print the letterehad when they print correspondence?