Written by Staff
By Amanda Casanova
A complex and lengthy conversation about what direction the City should take on awarding a water consulting contract ended on April 18 with the City Council narrowly voting to send proposals for the contract back to committee.
The vote came suddenly after nearly an hour of discussion when Council member Gerald Farris made a motion to end the debate and just vote.
The City Council voted 5-4 on April 18 to send the three bids on the contract back to committee to consider splitting the contract into three parts: water acquisition, water development and legislative efforts.
Mayor Beth Van Duyne and council members Brad LaMorgese, Joe Putnam, Gerald Farris and Thomas Spink voted in favor of the motion. Council members Michael Gallaway, Dennis Webb, Rose Cannaday and Roy Santoscoy voted against.
“I know some are anxious to get a resolution passed sooner rather than later,” LaMorgese said. “I would like to take it back to committee. My view is that I like identifiable pieces, and we can measure results.
“We take it back and take a deep look at all this and vet it out,” he said.
At stake is a one to two year contract with the City, a contract that has long gone to Dean International, Inc.
For the past 16 years, the City has awarded the water consulting contract to Dean International, Inc. Most recently, in late December, the Council agreed to give Dean the $63,000 water contract.
But the partnership with Dean, which includes a transportation consulting contract, has spurred debate. Also in December, the City Council voted to pay about $220,000 in unpaid invoices to Dean – invoices that had accumulated after the company’s contract with the City expired. David Dean, company owner, said he had been told to continue working without the contract.
At the Council request, a committee will consider dividing the water consulting contract into parts or even electing to recommend that the Council reject all bids and issue a new request for proposals. That process could take another two months, Ramiro Lopez, the City’s public works director, said.
Among the bids this time was one from Averitt at $15,000 per month; HillCo Partners at $18,000 per month; and a new bid from Dean for $24,000 per month.
Council members, however, said at the April 18 meeting that the request for proposals process has already slogged on for months.
“The problem I’ve got is we have to have (this contract),” Council member Webb said. “This Council has taken something that should have taken two to three months and dragged it out.
“My preference is since we’ve been using Dean International, since he’s got the relationships we need, this train has already left the station,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a smart idea to change the conductor of the train halfway on the tracks.”