The Village of Big Valley council agreed at their regular meeting Sept. 23 the awarding of a contract to a consultant without a tendering process was proper.
At the beginning of the Zoom council meeting Mayor Clark German asked that the issue of the awarding of an infrastructure study contract be added to the agenda, noting he had received some concerns from the public.
Coun. Art Tizzard and Harry Nibourg agreed to add it to the agenda.
It was stated in unapproved minutes presented a few moments later that a contract for an infrastructure study be offered to a private consultancy called D & A Paulichuk Consulting and that this decision had been approved by council at a special council meeting held on Sept. 21, a few days before the regular meeting.
In an email to the ECA Review Sept. 27 village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Tracy Mindus confirmed the contract amount was $42,500 plus tax.
Mindus stated council, and staff too, had voiced interest in the past on getting a handle on the village’s infrastructure situation.
She noted having an accurate assessment of the condition of the village’s infrastructure would help councillors develop their budgets three, five, 10 even 20 years from now.
Mindus stated she contacted at least one other municipality which had conducted such a study for some information and an important bit of information she received was that such studies greatly help with getting provincial or federal grants, including Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grants.
Mindus stated the municipality she spoke to had recently tendered an infrastructure study proposal and awarded it to a company called D & A Paulichuk Consulting and Mindus stated her investigation of the company revealed that it has good references.
She stated she contacted D & A Paulichuk Consulting and requested a proposal from the company to do an infrastructure study for the Village of Big Valley.
Mindus noted she brought the proposal to council at the Sept. 21 special meeting and also noted the village doesn’t have a procurement policy, so no rules were broken in this process.
Readers should note a procurement policy sets out rules that municipalities will follow when it comes to buying goods and services.
The CAO stated she felt the proposal was fair and adequate, that a separate municipality conducted a tender similar to what Big Valley was considering and that D & A Paulichuk Consulting came in “much lower” than other proposals.
Mayor German stated as a councillor he wants to make sure the village is responsible with taxpayer money and also gets good value in return for that money.
The mayor stated it looks like the other municipality did go through a formal tender process with D & A Paulichuk Consulting coming in the lowest which lends credibility to that firm.
German added that the fact that the other municipality was happy with their decision to contract D & A Consulting means the Big Vally council’s decision to offer the company a contract was “reasonable and sound”.
Coun. Tizzard stated, after hearing Mindus’ report, he didn’t feel anything improper was done in this situation.
Coun. Nibourg stated everyone at the table has probably worked with consultants and with bigger companies the cost to the village would likely go up.
Nibourg stated that it’s probable larger consultants may not be interested in the relatively small contract Big Valley would have to offer.
Mayor German added that he felt adopting a procurement policy sometime in the future for the Village of Big Valley would be a sound strategy.
Councillors unanimously revived Mindus’ report for information.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review