Thursday, February 17, 2011
City seeks funds for sewer project
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs mayor and board of aldermen are entertaining the idea of a very large sewer treatment project which mayor Andre’ DeBerry says will lay the foundation for growth not just in the city, but countywide.
The mayor discussed the plan to seek funding in connection with a report of activities of W.T. Consultants, a lobbying group under contract with the city each year for a number of years. It is time to renew the contract with the group, DeBerry said.
Past boards have pressed the mayor on the need for the lobbyists because of close working relations with the local delegation to the state Legislature.
The mayor said the city is seeking $14 million in federal dollars for a wastewater treatment facility that has been mandated by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The capacity of the city lagoon is inadequate or will be inadequate for future growth needs once sewer water reaches a certain maximum gallons a day, he said.
He said the West Boundary Extension project “would have failed if we did not have Worth (Worth Thomas Consultants) on board.
“It is very critical to have somebody on board to go to the Legislature and back and forth to the agencies,” DeBerry said. “Our legislators work well but we have a consultant who works well with the governor, House and Senate and agencies.”
The city pays W.T. Consultants $4,000 a month or $48,000 a year for its lobbying efforts, according to aldermen.
The discussion turned to rebid of janitorial services and the veto of a motion to rebid janitorial services by the mayor.
Alderman Russell Johnson asked to discuss a motion to overide the December 21, 2010, veto by DeBerry of the boards’ motion to advertise for bid for janitorial services. At that time the board included in its motion to add the multi-purpose building to the list and bid all buildings using professional janitorial services.
Details of past arguments on whether the services should be rebid were rehashed by the board and mayor after alderman Garrie Colhoun called for discussion after Johnson’s motion to override the veto.
“Did we not put that out for bids to start with?” he asked.
“As I stated,” said DeBerry. “My point was you need to bid at times when you bid city services.”
“I think we wrapped around the axel about who is doing the cleaning,” said alderman Calvin James. “I don’t care who is doing the cleaning unless it is not being done.”
“I’m OK with the board saying to rebid it, but do it at the time we bid city services,” the mayor said.
“Maybe at times when something is falling through, things happen; we wouldn’t want to wait,” James said.
Johnson argued that the various places added to the contract - cleaning of city hall, the police station, etc, was not bid but added piecemeal to the contract.
“It is not about who cleans, but getting the best buck for our dollars,” Johnson said. “It is our responsibility who gives the best service for the best price. I want to manage the city like I would manage my own money. We didn’t bid this.”
DeBerry argued that the board changed the parameters and raised the janitorial cleaning to the level of city services.
“Show me the policy, Mayor,” said Johnson.
“We are muddling everything now,” DeBerry said.
“Was it bid?” asked Johnson.
“It was not a bid process because it was not a city service,” DeBerry said. “They were cleaning some buildings and just kept adding on. I ain’t got a dog in the fight, but be consistent with the process. You are changing the process, not me.”
Johnson said the board did not add janitorial services to city services but the company, Miracle Workers Cleaning Inc., is being paid about $49,000 a year to clean the utility department, city hall, the police department and the information technology buildings.
James asked the mayor if the city has a standard operating procedure written whereby city services are bid one time a year.
City clerk Belinda McDonald said the city runs bids for city services once a year.
James said he was not aware of the bidding process when he asked the multi-purpose building be added to the list of those to be cleaned.
The mayor has argued that adding the multi-purpose building to the list of buildings to be cleaned caused the matter to be elevated to the level of a city service.
“Every municipality in the state goes by the same process,” he said. “I merely say, if you raise it, then there’s a time to bid.”
With that, the motion proceeded and roll was called. The motion failed by a 2-3 vote to override the mayor’s veto. Payne, James and Colhoun voted to not override the mayor’s veto and Bagley and Johnson voted to override the veto. If aldermen make no change, the janitorial service will be put out for bids this fall.
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