COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — Some of the controversy over engineering services for the city of Columbus has been settled.
The city council Tuesday night rescinded a previous decision to seek proposals from other firms and agreed to a contract with Neel-Schaffer Engineers for city services.
The vote was 4-0 with Council members Bill Gavin and Gene Taylor recusing themselves because they have relatives involved with the company.
Neel-Schaffer has been the city’s engineer for years but the city decided last month to take a new approach and seek proposals from other firms. Some council members were unhappy the company, which is among the largest in the Southeast, charged for services related to actions by some political opponents.
At the same time, Mayor Robert Smith pushed through a proposal to hire J5/Broadhaus as project manager for city public works and infrastructure projects. That was going to cost the city $90,000 a year plus 6 percent of project costs; And the city still would have to hire outside engineers in some cases.
Under the new contract, Neel Shaffer will provide those services at pay levels based on different types and complexity of work.
The fee structure and contract is similar to one Neel-Schaffer uses for other cities. Columbus was the only town in the region where th company acted officially as city engineer and took part in many day-to-day public works activities. Those responsibilities will now be handled by by the project manager.