Canal Winchester Village Council will probably hear the first reading Feb. 16 of an ordinance for a new three-year contract with its long-time engineering company, but some members said last week it's time to seek proposals from other firms.

Canal Winchester Village Council will probably hear the first reading Feb. 16 of an ordinance for a new three-year contract with its long-time engineering company, but some members said last week it's time to seek proposals from other firms.

Consultants from Evans, Mechwart, Hambleton & Tilton Inc. (EMH&T) have worked with village staff members since February 2005. Public works director Matt Peoples ranked the services provided by the company "second to none" in his 16 years on the village staff.

"We have some vital services with them," he said. "We are very satisfied with EMH&T and the services they give us."

Council members Bobbie Mershon and Bruce Jarvis, however, said it's time for a change.

"I'm not saying they're bad at all," Mershon said. "I think it's time. You don't know what's out there."

Mershon said she thinks the village should seek proposals from other engineering firms in order to check for possible cost savings "and any number of things that could come up."

Jarvis cited general principle as his reason for desiring a change in the long-term arrangements.

"Every so often we should do that," he said.

Mayor Mike Ebert said staff members have had some preliminary discussions about the new three-year contract and will have a full report at the next service committee meeting, also scheduled for Feb.16, prior to the council meeting.

Peoples said the ordinance to establish the contract will likely be forwarded to council that night.

"I'm not super comfortable with a three-year contract," Jarvis said. "I just want to make sure we're not going down some primrose path."

Finance director Nanisa Osborn said she and other staff members did a price comparison study of other companies last summer.

"We know (EMH&T is) not the highest," she said. "We know they're not the lowest."

The original contract between the village and EMH&T lasted from 2005 to 2008. Officials decided last February to renew the contract for one year in order to compare rates and services with other engineering consultation companies and keep some continuity with the change of the mayor, Peoples said.

"It was time last year and we didn't," Mershon said. "I just like to do due diligence."

Osborn said the village pays EMH&T $4,400 monthly for the services of Steve Farst as village engineer and other engineers from the firm to perform various duties.

Farst's position is required by state law and the village charter, Peoples said. He said Farst and other EMH&T engineers assist in maintaining the village's five-year capital improvements plan, managing storm water, designing subdivision layouts and updating the village's geographic information system.

Peoples said the proposed new contract includes a 5-percent increase in individual hourly rates for EMH&T services. Rates were not raised last year. The contract doesn't limit village staff members from hiring other engineering firms.

Osborn said the contract can be terminated with 30 days' notice.

Ebert asked Peoples to rate EMH&T with the other four engineering firms that have worked with village staff. Peoples said EMH&T is No. 1.

"I think we're happy," Councilman John Bender said.

Mershon said she still would like to see some requests for proposals (RFPs) from other firms.

"Just going back and getting an RFP is going to get us apples, oranges and peaches," Osborn said. "We have engineers knocking on our doors every day because quite frankly, we're a large client."

The mayor said the village is in the middle of a lot of projects with EMH&T.

"I don't think it's the time to do it," he said. "I really don't."

Councilwoman Marilyn Rush-Ekelberry said village staff members are pleased with EMH&T and the rates are reasonable. She said change is not necessary.

"I don't have a dog in this fight," said Councilman Victor Paini. "But there seems to be a bigger issue. What's the core of the problem?"

Jarvis said the core has to do with his "comfort levels with long-term arrangements."

Council members decided finance committee should discuss the matter further at their next meeting Feb. 2.