City officials should not have rushed into engineering deal

One of the red flags in city government that we have seen over and over again is when someone makes a big dollar proposal that must be decided on right away.

Those agreements have repeatedly come back to bite the city — and taxpayers – in the rear.

The City Council was faced with a similar decision in a special meeting Tuesday night. On the table was a resolution to hire an engineering company for $9,000 to prepare and submit an application for a state grant worth $1 million.

The grant would fund a study and the exploration of a portion of the city’s sewer system to figure out a way to stop sewer backups during heavy rains and end basement flooding.

The city’s sewer system is without a doubt screwed up and needs a major overhaul. In short, the city’s system is not properly connected with Detroit’s main system, which ultimately leads to basement flooding.

The thing about this grant is, at least the way it was presented to the council, the engineering company that prepares the application would be designated as the engineering company that does the study and oversees the contracting out of services.

The catch is, the city has only a one-month window to submit the grant, which leaves absolutely no time for any other engineering company to bid on the project.

The engineering company in question has already figured out the costs for the study and is in line to receive $630,000.

Why on earth is the City Council being given such a tight deadline? If it’s the fault of the state for creating this small window of opportunity, well shame on the state because it doesn’t permit the proper vetting system on the local level.

We’re not suggesting there is something fishy here, but it’s just that this rush-rush, sign here now just doesn’t sound right.

A slim majority of the council voted to go through with the application process despite a warning from the city’s Finance Director to not enter into the deal without first bidding out the engineering study.

It’s unfortunate that the council didn’t hold off on this matter until next week when we can find out if the city’s legal bidding requirement is being violated. In the future, the council should err on the side of caution rather than act on impulse.

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