By Lucas Vader
At the June 18 town meeting, the Cedaredge board of trustees discussed the renewal of its agreement with DOWL Professional Services and ultimately extended the current agreement for three months. Per the current agreement which would have expired this month if the board hadn’t extended it, Dan Quigley, PE from DOWL provided engineering services for the Town of Cedaredge as the exclusive Cedaredge town engineer.
The proposal that was presented to the board was a staff recommendation to extend DOWL’s contract through June 30, 2021, but Trustee Jim Atkinson brought up his own past experience as an engineer to suggest that certain parts of the agreement should be changed to financially benefit the town.
Prefacing that he has no objections with DOWL, Atkinson said he wanted to revisit the agreement, particularly where he felt there are lacking details in regards to finances.
“I think giving an agreement like this to an engineering company on a T&M basis basically gives them an open checkbook,” Atkinson said. “I think historically the town has spent way too much on engineering services, and I think we can get the same level of service for a whole lot less expenditure.”
Atkinson suggested that, instead of extending the contract for a full year, they extend it for a small number of months in order for them to revisit the agreement and set up something that wouldn’t allow DOWL to easily surpass budgets on its own accord. He suggested two solutions for the problem.
Either the town could quote projects with a cost ceiling, for time and material not to exceed a certain amount, or it could leave projects more open-ended and receive several bids for the project from DOWL and other engineering firms as well.
“Otherwise they think they just have an open-ended arrangement to bill and I think we get into trouble with that,” Atkinson said.
Mayor Ray Hanson stepped in to defend DOWL and voice his opinion that the town should extend the agreement with it for the entire year. He said that DOWL has worked well with the town several times in the past and that over-budget projects for the town have always been done by other companies.
Trustees Heidi Weissner and Richard Udd both originally leaned toward the full-year renewal as well, but Atkinson stood by the notion that a full year contract could potentially mean the town misses out on easily saving funds in the future if a better bid comes along for a project.
“I’d hate to be locked into the same agreement for another entire year without an opportunity to clamp that down a little tighter,” Atkinson said.
Town Administrator Greg Brinck asked Atkinson what he would specifically like to see changed in the agreement with DOWL, to which Atkinson said he wanted to see more methodology for DOWL’s compensation and more details on the communication between DOWL and the town which would specify that the engineering firm could not go over a set budgeted amount without going to the town for an amendment to that amount.
Atkinson also said he wanted to see rates reevaluated per task, which from his experience, would likely be cheaper for the town in the end.
The board of trustees then unanimously granted the three month extension with the current agreement, which is available in the meeting packet. The agreement will be reevaluated during that time.