Officials mum on engineer plans

August 1, 2013 10:51:17 AM

Nathan Gregory - ngregory@cdispatch.com

 

City officials have not made clear when, or if, they will formally post a notice requesting proposals from firms for the city engineer position. 

 

It has been nearly a month since the council voted 4-2 in favor of advertising for the position instead of re-appointing Neel-Schaffer, the firm currently providing engineering services. That vote took place during the council's July 2 meeting after councilman Bill Gavin's motion to re-instate Neel-Schaffer failed, again by a 4-2 vote. He and Charlie Box, who were the same two to vote against soliciting proposals for the position, were the only two in support of keeping the current firm. 

 

A majority of councilmen and Columbus Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong said they were either not sure of a timeline for when the city might advertise or were unable to discuss the situation when contacted by The Dispatch Tuesday. Gavin said the subject would be brought up for discussion during the council's budget workshop this morning at City Hall. 

 

During the July 2 meeting, councilmen opted to accept requests for proposals for the city engineer post and also created a project manager position, accepting an unsolicited proposal from J5 Broaddus, a joint venture between local businessman Jabari Edwards and program management firm Broaddus & Associates in Texas, to fill the new position. They voted at the July 23 board meeting to compensate J5 Broaddus $90,000 a year plus six percent of expenses for every project it manages. Box and Gavin voted against the proposal.  

 

Broaddus & Associates senior project manager Robyn Eastman told councilmen during the July 23 meeting that its role would be to work with engineering firms on a project-by-project basis. 

 

Councilman Kabir Karriem said after that meeting that the city could possibly choose not to hire a city engineer. 

 

"If you have a project manager, who's to say we would even need an engineer? That is yet to be determined," he said. "From my conversations, I don't know if Neel-Schaffer wants to handle the day-to-day operations of the city any longer." 

 

Kevin Stafford, who serves as the liaison between Neel-Schaffer and the city, was unavailable for comment as of press time. 

 

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.