Tom McMasters for City Council
Aquatic Center (mostly)
28 Aug 2011—My thoughts on the operating contract can be found here
22 Aug 2011 - Today the council meeting was held at 5 pm. I did not see this change when I opened the agenda. Normally the video is online to watch by the day after the meeting. My apologies to anyone that tried to go to the council meeting at 7 pm.
19 Aug 2011 - During Tuesdays Administrative Committee meeting it appeared that council had decided to hire the YMCA to run the Aquatic Center and that this item would be on Monday’s Council meeting agenda. The agenda is out today and it does not contain this item.
Background: When the aquatic center was first revealed to the public council also announced they intended for the YMCA to run the facility. Subsequent to this initial announcement the mayor and council have on a couple occasions told interested citizens that no decision had been made on who would run the center. I’ve been looking for agenda items on council, administrative committee, and parks and recreation meetings concerning how the city would evaluate how the aquatic center operations should be administered. I have not identified any discussions that have occurred in open meetings until the administrative meeting held August 16th. In this meeting council was examining a proposed contract between the city and YMCA. My expectation after this meeting was that there would be a vote on Monday establishing this relationship. Now that it is not on the agenda this gives you the opportunity to ask council to give details about the other administration options they considered. Find the HH Council Meeting Agendas. Watch a rebroadcast Online
26 June 2011 - It is prior to the council meeting held Monday 27 Jun. There are a couple of aquatic center items on the agenda Monday. Item J will authorize the financial manager to put all the money they have assemble for the project into a single fund. This is mainly mechanical and pretty much required for good management.
The important one for those interested in how our money is being spent is:
“Item L: A Resolution Authorizing The City Manager To Award The Bid And Enter Into A Contract
For Phase I Of The Recreation Amenity, And Declaring An Emergency.
This item is the first of three “big” contracts for the projects. The city chose not to go through the lengthy process of open solicitation of bids and giving “everyone” a chance at the project. Instead the engineering management firm they hired asked two companies to provide bids. On Monday during the administration committee meeting council was briefed that the process would be: Tuesday the engineering management firm would formally get the two bids. The firm would spend the rest of the day Tuesday and Wednesday evaluating the bids. The results of that evaluation should be available Thursday. The administration committee was not scheduled to meet at the end of the week so each council member must have gotten the results in some other manner. Monday the council members will pass the measure authorizing the contract.
Though this is not about the aquatic center—also on the agenda are new contracts for all the unionized employees.
27 Jun Post meeting update: I spoke twice during the council meeting tonight. Once concerning the Union contracts. I haven’t looked at the recording yet but I suspect I rambled on and perhaps didn’t talk in complete sentences. When the council passed the resolution allowing the city manager to open contract negotiations with the union he was instructed to do this only if it benefited the city. Tonight I asked council (or at least meant to ask council) to tell us how (well) these contracts fulfilled that duty. From their conversation it appears they believe the greatest benefit is because it limits the uncertainty that is bound to happen because of SB5. Also, mentioned was the employees agreed to a 0% change in wages for at least two of the contract years. At the end of the meeting Ms Kalebs said one thing I intended to say and this lifted my opinion of the entire meeting. She said that she had the impression that SB5 was a way to limit local governments options. Like I said I it made me happy to hear her express that opinion during the meeting. What would have made this absolutely perfect is if council had city staff prepare a paper comparing these contracts with what kind of contract would be expected if SB5 were in effect.
The other item I spoke about was the city awarding the contract for the initial construction work on the aquatic center. This is the first time I believe I spoke clearly and succinctly. In a normal bid process there are multiple checks to make sure bids are reasonable. In the process the council chose for this contract there is no formal check on the bid received and recommended by the engineer management firm the council hired. I asked council to tell the public what information they were using to judge the reasonableness of the bid. I think it should have been obvious that I was hoping for an answer based on information that was learned independently of the engineering management firm. Instead of addressing the question they asked the engineering management firm representative to talk. His talk consisted almost entirely of an explanation of the bid process used versus the normal competitive bid process. This is consistent with what I’ve seen in administration meetings in that council is satisfied in getting the information concerning the reasonableness of cost from the people they hired to do the project. One Caveat - in the last administrative meeting there was a brief mention of a comparison of this project with one the new city manager oversaw in his last position. This comparison has not yet begun and the timing when it would be done wasn’t declared but it was a least a ray of hope someone had put the idea of an independent analysis into councils ear (probably the new city manager). Unfortunately, from tonight’s meeting it probably wasn’t used to help with tonight’s decision. (I just watched the video look at 01:06:30 I really am a terrible speaker. Given the engineer manager’s response, especially those starting at 01:09:25, I find it difficult to understand the mayor’s comment “there’s nothing in that (your comment) that says we’re wasting any money or we could have done better.
Changing gears. My one major goal of this campaign is to help create a system where reasonably interested citizens can get a good understanding of the city’s business if they put in a reasonable effort to learn. And I want a normal citizen to be able to get a complete understanding of subjects they have an interest to know about—using a reasonable amount of effort. To me a reasonable amount of effort would be to look through the minutes and meeting background information that is concisely presented with “all” pertinent information. So for something as involved as the aquatic center this might mean the citizen needs to do a lot of reading. But it shouldn’t mean that citizen should have to sit through all those meetings. And speaking from experience even sitting through all the publicized meetings the public would be left out of a lot of details.
The reason I brought this up is one of the council members talked about a general citizen that tried to make a point during one of the public hearings. That citizen mistakenly thought the population of the city was 25,000 (instead of approx 38,000). Tonight this council member brought this up to express his disappointment that so many citizens will throw around numbers and “facts” that are way off the mark. One of the points I have been trying to make with every address I make to the council is the public is looking for council to provide background. But this example was particularly annoying because during this same public hearing one speaker was talking about the land purchased for this property. When he spoke he asked the council to talk about the price paid for the land. Then this citizen remarked this may not be so bad $700,000 for 46 acres doesn’t seem so bad. Every council member there knew that the city was only buying 14 acres but not one of them spoke up to educate him about the real information. I encourage you to open the video and fast forward to 20:33:10. At this point the mayor tells the speaker he will address his concerns then at 20:33:29 the speaker makes his misstatement.
While you have that video open fast forward again to 21:30:30. Here a council member “takes offense of any implication that we are not bringing forth this information to the public” then he talks about all the meetings they have had “all of which have been open to the public”. I’d appreciate it if you would back me up. I’ve looked at all the meetings and all the minutes found at http://agendaquick.hhoh.org/agenda_publish.cfm#ReturnTo0 from Jan 2011 until present and I don’t see any mention in any of these minutes or agendas (except for this video) where it is noted that council had considered the enclosed facility the speaker talks about. In fact, the first introduction to the aquatic center was during a normal council meeting March 14th (at this meeting council told us where the project was going to be—no public input needed, and who they chose to put on contract to oversee the project—no public input needed). Prior to the Mar 14th meeting I found three closed meetings discussing the purchase of land but not a single mention of an aquatic or recreation center. They may have talked about a lot of these things during these closed meetings but all the major details were decided behind closed doors and the decision formulas have not been posted as part of any minutes.
Oh yea—you want to see a really bad public speaker go back on that same video to 21:16:00
13 June 2011—It is prior to the meeting and there are a few agenda items I would like to address tonight:
Tonight 13 Jun 2011 the Huber Heights City council meets and again is about to try and prove they intend to spend $7.4 million on a $3.8 million project. Here are the agenda items I would like to talk about:
General Citizen Comments -
Set up the council website and the meetings so a typical working father of 5 can become familiar with city business in a reasonable time. If the council were to communicate properly it would still take a person of normal intelligence more than 4 hours to understand all the current information about the proposed aquatic center. However, council hasn’t tried to engage the public so even someone that attends nearly every council meeting a many of the committee meetings hasn’t seen much depth of discussion
Agenda item 11F
A Resolution Approving The Plan For Development And Construction Of Phase I Of A Recreation Amenity Being An Aquatic Park As Previously Approved By This Council;
· What is the Difference between Detailed Development Plan and Detailed Plan of Development. Tonight the council will approve a Detailed Plan of Development. This is a term that has not ever been used before. I wonder how this relates to the Detailed Plan of Development that the Planning Commission found inadequate and will be considering tomorrow.
Agenda item 11G
· A Resolution Authorizing The City Manager And/Or The Project Manager To Identify And Pre-Qualify Suitable Responsible Contractors, Solicit Bids And Quotes From Pre-Qualified Suitable Contractors, Select The Lowest And Best Bidder,
· Report or supporting documentation showing council is aware of reasonable work rates. Council hired an Engineering firm to oversee the aquatic project. The rate they hired them at is at the top of the scale for this type of work and clearly 15 to 20% more than what it would cost most other organizations. The bidding process for this project is “by invitation”. That is this engineering firm will ask two companies they normally do business with to submit bids. The one with the lower bid will win the contract. It seems logical that council members should ask for someone independent of this firm to prepare for them a cost estimate of what this type of work should cost. This would allow them to know the reasonableness of the bids.
Agenda Item 11N. A Resolution Amending Resolution No. 2011-R-5461 To Increase The Not To Exceed Amount For Brandstetter Carroll Inc., And Declaring An Emergency (first reading)
· Comparison of Troy Pike Sewer Pumping station architectural design cost ($60,000) vice Shull road ($100,000). The architectural firm doing the Shull Road design is the same firm doing the architectural design of the aquatic park. City council went with the $75,000 bid from this firm because they are in a rush and didn’t want to go through the same process that got them on contract with a different company for $60,000. Tonight they are going to make the Shull rd project cost $100,000.
Monday May 9th and Tuesday May 10th. The council discussed the Recreation Activity Center Master Plan during the council meeting on Monday. They also voted to hire the Architect. Read the background information I prepared before the meeting, email your council member. Tuesday the Planning Commission meets to discuss the land use questions.