The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Lansing City Council considers merits of selection process

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  • Lansing City Council members could vote next week on implementing a qualified-based selection process, potentially allowing several projects involving the Seven-Mile Creek project to move forward.
    A qualification-based selection process to select professional firms, such as engineering, architectural and geotechnical, has prompted several heated discussions among council members the past few months.
    However, Lansing Public Works Director John Young said the city has used the process for about 12 years.
    He named a number of projects for which it has been used, including the Main Street Safety, Fairlane Extension and East Eisenhower projects, among others.
    For federally-funded engineering services, the QBS process is mandated.
    Young said the process has worked well and has resulted in a low number of change orders. If using the low bid process, he said, companies figure out how to lowball the project, and there are either cost overruns or the product is often inferior.
    Council member Andi Pawlowski has been the most vocal opponent of the QBS process. After Thursday's presentation, she continued to oppose it.
    "The citizens of Lansing think we bid for these," she said. "I disagree with it. I think we should bid them."
    Council member Tony McNeill has also questioned the process, but he reiterated Thursday he believes the process is fine. He also said the city's policy should specifically mention how it works and under what conditions.
    McNeil said he looked at policies in numerous other jurisdictions, and described the process itself as "not unusual."
    He suggested the policy include a paragraph that says the city administrator can recommend the process, not only in single source situations, but if it seems more feasible. The council would then have the chance to approve whether to go forward with it.
    That way, Mayor Billy Blackwell said, "It'll be fixed, because it'll come to you."
    City officials said they would include the suggested language in items for the council to consider at next week's meeting.
    In other business Thursday, council members decided to go with an 80/20 city and employee split for health insurance, at least as a starting point.
    Human Resources Manager Sunshine Petrone displayed a spread sheet that showed how various entities in the surrounding area split costs, which ranged from paying 100 percent for a single employee and as little as 50 percent for a family plan, if the employee has dependents.
    The Excel worksheet she formulated projects a 10 percent increase in premiums, though she said there's actually no way to determine what the costs will be in advance.
    Council members said they'll still look at the line item during budget negotiations, but at least this will give them a starting point.
    Another topic that arose was performance-based bonuses for high-producing employees. The question was whether to give remaining funds to the highest performers, or to use money for other projects.
    Page 2 of 2 - Both positions were discussed, but at this point, at least for 2014, it appears left over funds will be used for employees.
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