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Contract approved for engineering

GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council on Tuesday approved a resolution to award a contract to Steven E. Smith P.E. Civil & Architectural Engineering to provide engineering services to the city by a split vote.

Action on the resolution was previously tabled during the March 10 meeting after residents raised concerns via social media over whether contracting with the firm of the city’s former councilman-at-large, Smith, would violate provisions of the city charter on holding other office.

The charter states, “no councilman or mayor shall hold any other city office or city employment” or “hold any compensated nonelected city office or city employment until one year after the expiration of the term for which he was elected or the date of his resignation from office.”

The former councilman-at-large, Smith, was defeated in his election bid by challenger William Rowback Jr. in November. Smith’s final day in office was Dec. 31.

Smith’s firm was the lowest bidder to a request for proposals issued by the city in January for the engineering services contract at a rate of $70 per hour. Additional bids were received from DM Romeyn Civil Engineering Design, PLLC at $75 per hour; Barton & Loguidice at $133 per hour; Delta Engineers, Architects, & Land Surveyors, DPC at $190 per hour; and Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. Engineering & Construction Services at $195 per hour.

The city historically has awarded contracts to the lowest qualified bidders and the Common Council was set to consider a resolution awarding the contract to Smith’s firm on March 10. The legislation was presented for adoption on the meeting agenda by 6th Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski and seconded by 2nd Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds, but during the meeting Siarkowski motioned to table action on the resolution, stating that he had questions concerning the item. The motion to table action until this week’s meeting was approved 6-1.

The resolution to award the contract to Smith’s firm was considered again on Tuesday and approved by a 5-2 vote. Rowback and 4th Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio voted against the legislation.

Siarkowski today explained that following the March 10 meeting the council received clarification on the matter from the New York State Conference of Mayors and attorneys who returned opinions that there was no conflict with the city charter in contracting with Smith’s firm as he would be a private contractor and not an employee of the city.

“We checked this, we spent two weeks making sure this was proper,” said Siarkowski. “We just needed a clarification, we received that and that’s why we passed it last night. We were comfortable passing that.”

When contacted for comment today regarding his vote, Rowback expressed continuing doubt over whether contracting with Smith’s firm was permissible under the provisions of the city charter and questioned the appearance of the action.

“Whether it’s legal or not it just doesn’t look right,” said Rowback.

Rowback agreed with the council’s assessment that an engineering firm is needed to provide oversight as the city looks to undertake several technical projects, including construction of a splash pad at Trail Station Park and an LED street light conversion, but said the city should have awarded the contract to another firm at this point.

“Personally, I have nothing against Steve Smith or his engineering firm,” said Rowback, noting that he would be comfortable awarding a contract to Smith’s firm after a year elapsed since he held office.

“When this was brought up a few [weeks] ago I was receiving phone calls saying it just doesn’t look right,” Rowback added in explaining his “no” vote. “At the end of the day we have to listen to our constituents.”

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