It’s not a huge amount of money, but Kendallville residents are being served well by their redevelopment commission members who recently exemplified thoughtful, prudent and responsible use of tax dollars.
On Wednesday, the commission members were presented a new bill from an engineering firm designing a trail along U.S. 6 to Walmart. The trail is being developed with the hope of getting pedestrians off the roadside of the busy highway.
Because of the recent discovery of some possible wetland spots in the project area, the engineering firm requested an additional $16,600 on top of the original invoice. The request was an approximately 40% increase from the original contract.
The sharp addition raised a few eyebrows around the table. Why weren’t the wetlands spotted back more than a year ago when the project was initially green-lighted?
City engineer Scott Derby was able to get a representative from the company on the phone to answer questions about what happened and why. Commission members asked some hard questions. The engineering firm had some reasonable answers about why the issue was missed at the project start.
Some board members took a hard stance that the city shouldn’t be on the hook for the increase. Others had a softer approach, that the work, albeit costly, was necessary if they wanted to continue the project.
In a discussion that lasted about 30 minutes, the ultimate result of the conversation was that both sides were able to get a message across and find common ground.
For the engineering firm, they pointed out that even if the wetlands were found from the get-go, the city would have had to incur some additional cost. From the city side, board members were able to identify that some of the $16,600 request was for work that now needed to be redone because the wetlands were overlooked.
Derby stepped in to mediate, asking to delay a month to allow both sides to continue to take a second look at the work order and negotiate.
It’s not set in stone, but the likely outcome of the is that when the bill comes back for consideration again in August, it will probably be more than $0, but likely less than the original $16,600.
“I appreciate the conversation back and forth,” Derby told board members. “It’s going to help keep their pencils sharp.”
He’s right. By considering spending with a critical eye, taking some additional time to ask questions and working out what is necessary and what might not be, the redevelopment commission members will probably save the city a few thousand dollars.
Approving bills and signing contracts are frequent tasks for local government officials and oftentimes it’s fairly routine, because there is nothing notable to object to.
But the redevelopment commissions showed that just because something is routine doesn’t mean they’re complacent about the stewardship of the community’s tax dollars.
It’s not a huge amount of money.
But it’s a signal that Kendallville has a good group of servants working for the city and its citizens.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board.
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