City Council "Tables" Contract Bidding Proposal

By Rachel Martin

September 7, 2011 Updated Sep 7, 2011 at 12:22 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – An ordinance on how the City should award contracts was put on hold Tuesday night at the Fort Wayne City Council meeting.

When it comes to selecting professional services for a city project, like architecture, engineering, or law firms, Mayor Tom Henry chooses a contractor and then negotiates a fair price. Council Republicans said that’s not fair, and contracts should be competitive and open for bidding by qualified companies.

Councilwoman Karen Goldner said Mayor Tom Henry proposed an ordinance, but requested it be put on hold when heard of other ideas he wanted to explore.

There’s been speculation that Mayor Henry chooses to consult with contractors that made contributions to his campaign. But Mayor Henry stated in a press release Tuesday night that he has created a five-member committee, two councilmen and three members of the administration, who will evaluate the ideas and make suggestions.

Goldner said it won’t hurt the council to consider other options.

“Different departments operate differently within the city. Even different functions operate differently, so I think it’s an important thing for us to take a look at,” Goldner said.

Mayor Henry made also made a statement that said he will choose companies that are qualified and offer the best price instead of negotiating.

“When it comes to selecting those professionals we want an open, qualifications-based process that gets us the best value at the fairest price,” Mayor Henry said.

In response to the ordinance being “tabled”, Councilwoman Liz Brown said she’s satisfied because she would have voted against the bill anyway.

“The bills that we had before this, the Mayor was going to codify the existing practices of just more no-bid contracts, and I was opposed to it,” Brown said.

Councilwoman Brown said she has her own ideas and re-introduced her bill that will limit contracts that are given to those who make political contributions. But, until her bill is brought up for discussion again, she’s all for the competitive bidding process.

“So it will be fair and hopefully more businesses in the city of Fort Wayne will be able to participate because it’s pretty locked up right now,” Brown said.

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