Courtesy Beacon Media.
By Maggie West / staff and D. Jefferson Bean / staff
"I have a problem with it," said Milton Councilman Bill Lusk, referring to a new city policy that allows no-bid contracts for professional services.
The City Council held the hearing in an otherwise empty room. After four hours of debate over the construction of cell towers, the capacity crowd had long since disappeared.
Within three minutes, Councilman Alan Tart moved to approve amending the city's purchasing policies. Councilman Burt Hewitt seconded the motion, after City Attorney Ken Jarrard assured Councilwoman Julie Zahner-Bailey of a $50,000 limit written into the ordinance.
Professional services mean work that requires a specialized college degree such as accounting or legal services.
Jarrard explained: "This is very standard. And this will give you and your staff the flexibility to competitive bid or RFP [request for proposal] professional services. Professional services are not typically a bid requirement."
Jarrard's assurance, however, did little to ease Lusk's mind. "For the very reason of lack of transparency. I'd like to see some other limitations." He then reminded his colleagues that professional services now include construction, as contractors are licensed by the state; and that nothing in the ordinance provided for adding to contracts by change orders.
Although the measure passed unanimously, Lusk's input reduced the ceiling on such contracts by 40 percent, to $30,000.