Pickerington City Council Feb. 5 heard the first reading of six separate ordinances that would authorize City Manager Bill Vance to enter into "professional service agreements" with four outside engineering firms, one construction inspection firm and a local information technology firm.
The proposed hiring of the outside firms represents a fundamental shift in the city's approach to completion of engineering projects.
Vance has orchestrated a transition plan whereupon the outside firms would provide additional resources to City Engineer Greg Bachman prior to him leaving his post with the city by June 30 of this year.
W.E. Stilson Consulting Group LLC, Burgess & Niple Inc., URS, and HDR Engineering Inc. are the four firms the city hopes to rely upon to pursue services whenever necessary for infrastructure improvement projects in the future.
Netcare Information Technology would provide IT services. Vance has stated the city is also short on IT personnel.
Quality Control Inspection Inc. would provide construction inspection in place of retiring city inspector Scott Parker.
An attempt to fast-track the legislation and immediately hire the firms by bypassing the normally required three separate readings for ordinances to pass failed by a 5-2 vote of City Council.
Council members Brian Sauer and Tony Barletta voted against the "emergency" designation. City rules mandate a motion has to garner three-fourths of the vote of council to waive three readings.
Barletta expressed concerns at City Council's Safety Committee in January that relying to heavily on outside firms could be a step backwards in that the city's "efficiency in using taxpayer dollars is compromised."
Barletta said he voted against the suspension of the rules requiring three separate readings on Feb. 5 because such legislation will need time for proper consideration.
"I don't think there is a need being served by hurrying up these contracts," Barletta said.
"I think it can go through the normal three reading process," he said.