It has been a recurring debate at Fresno city council meetings this year. A consultant contract is up for vote, and Councilman Garry Bredefeld calls for debate on the issue.
Thursday (April 27), Bredefeld took issue with contracts to hire a parks expert and a Washington, DC lobbyist.
“It’s an issue of using taxpayer money wisely,” Bredefeld said from the dais. “It’s not about not being for parks. We’re all for parks.”
The San Francisco-based Wallace, Roberts and Todd compile data about city parks. The city contracted with them last year. This time around, a $250,000 contract was at stake for more work. While Bredefeld chafed at the notion of hiring an outsider to do work that could be performed by city staff, it earned the support of councilman Oliver Baines.
“There is a big push to question every consultant contract. We hire consultants at times because it is more cost effective than hiring city staff to do the work, so I think in some senses it may be more fiscally prudent.”
The park consultant contract passed 4-3.
A three-year contract extension for lobbyist Simon and Company was also on the line. The city has used the firm in the past to persuade federal leaders for money and at City Hall’s insistence, wanted the relationship to continue.
“The reality is, while Fresno can decide not to do this, everybody else is doing this,” City Manager Bruce Rudd said. “It’s just the name of the game.
Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria touted the virtue of an advocate in the nation’s capital. “If we don’t have that presence there, the city of Fresno residents miss out, and it is our taxpayer money that we’re not getting back,” she said.
Still, Bredefeld felt the city hiring a lobbyist duplicated services already provided by the region’s elected officials. “I have a problem, though, that people pay their taxes now and they pay their taxes for representation on a local level, on a state level and a federal level,” he said.
This item also passed, 6-1.
It wasn’t all naysaying (a frequent term used about and by Bredefeld). He joined the rest of the council to unanimously grant The LeFlore Group of Whittier a $250,000 contract to help consult on how to receive and spend federal transportation funds.
Bredefeld’s support surprised city’s department director Brian Marshall, given the councilman’s reputation for scrutinizing such contracts. “All we can say is wow! Thank you.”
What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below.
Contact David Taub
Phone: 559-492-4037 / e-mail
This story was not subject to the approval of Granville Homes.
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