Licking County News

City Council

Pataskala mulls hiring an in-house engineer

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Pataskala City Council on Oct. 15 discussed hiring a city engineer instead of contracting with an engineering firm for services, a move that advocates said would be more efficient and perhaps save money.

No decision was reached, but City Council plans to consider the idea at a future meeting.

"I think a full-time engineer on the city staff may benefit the city better than a part-time individual on contract," said Councilman Mike Fox. "The one thing we do is to pay for a lot of other engineering on smaller projects.

"We can more than make up for the difference with what we pick up."

Fox said a full-time engineer could cost the city more in the first year as it would have to set up an office and Councilman Bernard Brush agreed, saying software that engineers use would have to be purchased.

"I think we should look at having our own engineer with all the road projects we've got going on," Brush said. "With what we're paying a consultant engineer on retainer, they have a flat fee, I think we could hire someone for that same amount."

Brush said as the city grows and completes more projects, it may be fiscally beneficial to hire an engineer.

"I think that's why we need the debate," Brush said.

City Council on Oct. 15 considered a resolution "authorizing and directing the city administrator to advertise and to accept qualification statements and fee proposals (and) to enter into agreement for the professional engineer services for 2013 and create a list of pre-qualified engineer firms."

Council members voted to split the resolution in two: One to advertise and to accept qualification statements and fee proposals and create a list of qualified engineer firms, and one to enter into an agreement for the professional engineer services for 2013.

With six members present, City Council voted in favor of requesting proposals and creating a list of potential engineers.

The second resolution to hire an engineering firm was opposed by Brush, Mike Compton and Fox and supported by Dan Hayes, Merissa McKinstry and Pat Sagar.

Mayor Steve Butcher and Councilman Bryan Lenzo were absent, so the resolution failed because it lacked a majority.

City Administrator Timothy Boland said the EMH&T engineering firm of Columbus is contracted through Dec. 31 to provide day-to-day engineering and look at drainage issues and questions about roads that arise.

City Finance Director James Nicholson said the contract with EMH&T called for a weekly rate of $1,666, which equates to $86,632 for work in 2012.

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