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Monday, July 8, 2013

That ain't the way we do it

New Rules Don’t Fit: Council Questions City Engineer Selection Process
The city attempted to follow its new 2012 City Procurement Rules to update the city engineering services contract, but ran into a glitch with changes to the new rules. City procurement rules are required by state law; the city’s previous engineering contract is not in compliance with state law.

In the past, “we had experience with one person doing everything,” Councilor Bill DiMarco said. “Now with the new state rules and with our procurement rules, those are probably two different jobs, and maybe we can’t wisely or even legally do that anymore.”

The Sewer and Streets Committee formed a City Engineering Request for Qualifications (RFQ) Selection Committee to review the RFQs submitted. Each committee member was tasked to review the RFQ proposals and score them based on preset criteria. The committee would then forward the top two scoring proposals to the Council for consideration.

Based on scoring results submitted by four of five committee members, the top two scores were HBH Engineering with 729 out of 800 points followed by Westech Engineering - the current city engineer - with 630 points.

DiMarco’s understanding of this RFP was that it was to hire a plain city engineer, whose job is separate from project manager, state negotiator or state facilitator. “My impression is that it is not wise anymore to combine them in one person,” he said. “Westech is very highly regarded,” dissenting evaluator and Councilor Christensen said. “I would like them to be the engineer on record and do the sewer project.”

Councilor Randy Nelson did not feel comfortable letting a handful of people on a committee make an important decision like this for the City Council. “I want to know how we got there and what we can do legally to change it if we can,” Nelson said.
The Council tabled the topic until July 23 to give councilors a chance to review the scoring process and seek legal counsel.
Adjustment to open, fair and competitive procurement processes is a large pill to swallow for those accustomed to calling the shots.

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