City Council Moves to Forfeit Contract Option

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By Dave Freneaux

    By a 3 to 2 margin the Central City Council passed a resolution authorizing Mayor Mac Watts to give a written notice of non-renewal to CH2M Hill.  The City's contract with CH2M Hill affords Central the right to renew the existing contract if it is in the best interests of the City.  This renewal automatically occurs if notice is not given 120 days prior to the June 30, 2011 expiration of the contract, which would be March 2, 2011.  Council Members LoBue, Messina and Washington voted to authorize giving notice early, while Council Members DeJohn and Moak voted against the resolution and stated that giving notice at a much later date was the better decision for the City.  If the formal notice encouraged by the resolution is sent, Central permanently loses its right to renew the existing contract.

    Several Central citizens spoke during public comment and expressed their agreement with taking bids on the July 1, 2011 contract, but stated that it seemed unwise to send notice of non-renewal more than four months earlier than necessary.  They explained that the "option to renew" was a potentially valuable asset which is owned by the City of Central, and to give away that option early for no apparent reason would not be in the best interests of the City.  One possible example given was that of a November hurricane which could discourage new bidders or artificially drive up the price of a new contract.  In that event, or in the event of a number of possible local or national economic difficulties, having retained the renewal option through March 1, 2011 could save the taxpayers of Central a great deal of money.

     Mayor Watts has assembled a committee of 21 highly qualified persons referred to by Council Member Washington as "The Dream Team" to review Central's City Services contract and recommend an approach to bidding the July 2011 contract.  The citizens who spoke specifically supported the work being done to put the contract out for bids, but asked that the Council not give away the City's option four months earlier than necessary. 

    The Council agenda also included Council Member Messina's agenda item to consider limiting the time for discussion of an item by Council Members.  Mr. Messina removed the item from consideration when it was discovered that such an ordinance had been in place since 2005.  Mr. Messina explained that the existing ordinance fully addressed his concerns.  The 2005 ordinance limits initial comment by each Council Member to 5 minutes with an additional 5 minute rebuttal period after initial comments.

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