Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Procurement report coming sooner, rather than later, to Mayor and Council

When the Mayor and Council should be briefed on a consulting firm's report on city procurement and purchasing was a topic of heated discussion at last night's meeting. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Councilmember Beryl Feinberg felt strongly that the current Mayor and Council should hear the results of the report on October 19, the last scheduled meeting of this political term. They said that, given the time and money the current 5 members have spent on the issue, they should bring closure to the issue prior to voters choosing who will be the next Mayor and Council.

Councilmember Tom Moore disagreed, saying "this is a complete waste of taxpayer money." He argued that the Mayor and Council would be briefed on a report it could do nothing with, since it would be last meeting of its term of office. The consultant would then have to fly back to Rockville a second time to brief the next Mayor and Council, Moore said, noting that the taxpayers would pick up the tab for airfare from Cambridge, Massachusetts and the consultant's hotel stay twice.

Newton said action on the report at the October 19 meeting couldn't be ruled out, adding that she wasn't advocating for action, but disputing Moore's suggestion that they were powerless to act on it. City Manager Barbara Matthews said the city had already spent between $58,000 and $62,000 on the report.

In light of that amount, Newton argued that $2000 more would be an acceptable cost if the end result would rectify longstanding procurement problems in the city.

Moore made a motion to request the report be delivered to the next Mayor and Council as soon as possible. His motion was seconded by Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr.

The motion was voted down 3-2, with Councilmember Virginia Onley joining Newton and Feinberg in opposition. Onley said she, too, would like the current body to see the matter through before the term ends. The report will now go forward on October 19.

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