The march for better government in DeKalb continued its slow but steady beat as the Citizens for Transparency held a rally for the 2nd time since November 1.
Concern and anger has been growing since the public was informed that 3rd ward alderman, Victor Wogen, through his now defunct company, Masonry Works, LLC., has received some $53,000 in contract masonry work from the City of DeKalb for TIF projects in his ward.
Wogen reportedly submitted the lowest quote on six of eight jobs, without city council’s knowledge, because the amount of each individual invoice was under the $20,000 threshold that the city manager is allowed to spend without council’s approval. Three invoices, totaling $37,000 were paid for work done in relation to the demolition of 231 E. Lincoln Hwy.
In response to growing concerns, city staff proposed several changes/additions to Chapter 54 “Financial Administration,” Section 54.15 “Purchasing and Letting of Contracts.”
After much deliberation at its Nov. 13 regularly scheduled meeting, council members (Wogen and 1st ward alderman Bertrand Simpson were absent) took staff recommendations much further — if those changes are not countered during a second reading at the next council meeting in three weeks.
On a motion by 4th ward alderman, Brendon Gallagher and seconded by 6th ward alderman, Dave Baker, department heads or other city officials other than the city manager will be limited to enter into contracts administratively only in an amount up to $5,000 (reduced from $10,000). Only the City Manager, or his designee, may enter into contracts without Council approval from $5,001 to $10,000 (reduced from $20,000).
A Baker amendment, seconded by 7th ward alderman Brent Keller, will require elected council members and city employees to notify the city council before bidding or quoting on city work.
In addition, on an annual basis, each member of the Council shall publicly disclose the name of any business in which said member has an interest or ownership greater than 7½%. Each member of the City Council shall also provide to the City Clerk on an annual basis a copy of his/her Statement of Economic Interests which is filed in the DeKalb County Clerk’s office.