DATE: October 20, 2009
FROM: Mark Biernacki, City Manager
PHONE: (office) 815-748-2090
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
City of DeKalb to Consider Limiting Aldermen’s Ability to Work on City Projects
At its October 26, 2009 Committee of the Whole meeting, the City Council will discuss possible changes to its policies and procedures as they relate to Aldermen working on City projects. City Manager Mark Biernacki said the Council was scheduled to consider some rule changes at a later date as part of its longer term review and overhaul of its financial policies. However, DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen will be asking the City Council to give this topic more immediate attention. “We need to address this now in light of questions I have been receiving on the propriety of the City’s procedures when it authorized Alderman Victor Wogen to work on several downtown maintenance projects,” said Povlsen.
According to City Attorney Norma Guess, the City’s current rules do not preclude an Alderman from doing business with the City provided certain procedures and State statutory limitations are followed. The State Statutes and City’s rules require appropriate quotes, bids, and/or requests for proposals from qualified businesses or individuals. According to State law, if the low quote happens to be from a City Council member or the employer of a City Council member, then that City Council member must abstain from voting on the award if its approval requires City Council action. However, according to State and City law, projects with a price tag of less than $20,000 can be administratively approved by the City Manager without Council action.
Biernacki said Wogen submitted the lowest quotes on six out of eight separate maintenance jobs on various downtown properties in 2008. The two other maintenance projects were performed by other contractors. “All of the projects involved restoring and weather proofing brick and masonry building walls exposed to the elements as a result of the City’s acquisitions and demolition activities on adjacent properties,” he said. “Our intentions were good in that we tried to have these projects done at the lowest cost to the taxpayer. Since his quotes were the cheapest of those received and were less than $20,000, I authorized him to proceed with the work,” Biernacki said. The total cost of the six separate projects was $52,880.
“Since taking office, it has been my goal to make the City more transparent in all of its practices and procedures,” Povlsen said. “While our Legal Department has said no rules or laws have been broken, I am still not satisfied with the way our current regulations or past practices have allowed certain things to occur.” He said some of the options for the City Council to consider include an outright ban on Council members doing any business with the City or require there to be more controls, disclosures, and limitations in those instances where it may be allowed to continue. “For me, transparency is the key. Anything we can do to avoid the appearance of impropriety is good for the City and the DeKalb community.”
If this City of DeKalb press release intrigues or enrages you then you absolutely must read this blog from City Barbs (click here).
This is NOT good government. The improprieties are transparent.
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