An $80,000 no-bid contract with yet another out-of-town company, McClaren, Wilson & Lawrie Inc., that city manager Anne Marie Gaura had previously done business with was rejected by a 5-3 vote at Monday (March 9, 2015) night’s city council meeting.
The study was meant to provide the council with researched information to help them decide whether they should spend millions on renovating the current city hall or perhaps spend less by building a new one.
A $60,000 study by PSA Dewberry paid for in 2013 gave the city council options and cost estimates for refurbishing city hall. Wold Architects performed a similar study in 2007 but that included keeping the police station in the building.
Monica O’Leary (7th ward) blasted the new study proposal as redundant and questioned why staff would ask taxpayers to pay for a study that was tailor made to seek new construction.
Kristen Lash (3rd) got frustrated with staff’s position that to question the survey somehow meant that the council was against building a new city hall. She wanted to use the Dewberry study for the costs of renovating and have any new study limited to associated new construction costs.
Robert Snow (4th) already made up his mind that renovating the existing building was the way to go and did not need or want to see a new construction cost analysis.
David Jacobson (1st) thought the whole idea was absurd because the city really doesn’t have the money for this size of a project. He questioned why once again staff was asking the city council to approve another no-bid contract on the basis of being comfortable with the vendor.
Jacobson moved to amend the original motion to approve the $80,000 no-bid contract to put the proposal out to bid. His motion was quickly seconded by Lash or O’Leary who spoke simultaneously.
When Dave Baker (7th) who was supportive of the proposal objected to a roll call vote on the original motion because of Jacobson’s amendment he too became frustrated with the proceedings. City attorney, Dean Frieders, sided with the Mayor John Rey’s interpretation of procedure and Baker joined Jacobson, Lash, Snow and O’Leary in voting the motion down.
Bill Finucane (2nd), Ron Naylor (5th) and Rey voted in favor of the no-bid contract.
Rey then tried to get Jacobson to remake his motion but Jacobson declined and the no-bid contract proposal was rejected.
Prior to the agenda item for the no-bid contract during public comment former mayor, Bessie Chronopoulos, chastised the council for approving a $50,000 no-bid contract for a website redesign at its last meeting. She referred to a proposal submitted by Aardvark Webworks out of Barrington obtained through a FOIA request to make the current website fully ADA compliant for $8,100 and asked why the city manager didn’t make that proposal public or tell the city council about it during discussion on the action item.
Chronopoulos implored the city council to reconsider their action. She was met with silence and the council quickly moved on to other business.