Town Council ultimately decides the fate of contracts that don’t go out for bid
In the October 21 article “Friend With Benefits”, Lunch reported that Town Council approved a $150,000 consulting contract with the firm Dinsmore Sierra LLC without filing a Request for Proposals (RFP) or a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). At the October 18 Town Council Meeting where the contract was approved, then-Planning and Economic Development Commission Chair Madeleine “Mickey” Brown said, “I don’t know if there’s ever been a previous incident where we’ve issued something for $140,000 without issuing an RFP.”
On September 19, Town Council motioned to allow Holler to negotiate a contract with the firm Alta Planning + Design to create a “Multi-Modal Bicycle, Pedestrian, Transit, and Parking Action Plan.” No spending amount was ever listed on the agenda, and no Town Council members asked about a figure for cost at the September 19 meeting. The firm has not appeared on any subsequent agendas, yet the firm hosted two public workshops in Mammoth Lakes last week.
Holler told The Sheet that the Town did not put out a formal RFP for the work it hired Alta Planning + Design to do. The same firm helped develop the Draft Trails System Master Plan in 2009. That contract was for $94,000. Town Council never discussed the $94,000 in a Town Council meeting.
According to Holler, the Town of Mammoth Lakes is required by state law to issue an RFP for any projects involving public works. The Town Manager does not have to seek Council approval or issue a formal RFP before ratifying contracts with consulting firms (i.e. engineering, architecture, etc.) if the contract involves an expenditure of less than $50,000. However, the code stipulates that the “professional services selected shall be of the highest quality together with cost-effectiveness,” without providing additional oversight of the Town Manager’s decisions.
“Town Council voted to approve the contract [with Dinsmore Sierra, LLC],” said Holler last week. “I can’t just sign a paper and do that.” Holler is correct. The Municipal Code states that a contract for more than $150,000 can be ratified without being formally put out for bid if Town Council votes to approve it.