Council ‘intelligent’ enough to award contracts without board approval
St. Charles Parish officials and Parish President V.J. St. Pierre are looking at a plan that would do away with the Quality Based Selection Review Board, a group of professionals from outside the parish that determine which engineering and architectural firms get contracts.
And a plan has also been created to inform the council about all of the details of parish contracts, including those that are less than $20,000.
Sam Scholle, director of public works and wastewater, believes that the new council is intelligent enough to pick firms on their own and that the board is not necessary. In fact, Scholle thinks that the board members shouldn't be making decisions for St. Charles Parish; they should only act as advisors.
"We don't need this board to help us decide what contracts should be awarded to what firm," he said. "The council members have very diverse educational backgrounds and are more than capable of making these kinds of decisions."
Scholle says the board can still be helpful, but only in an advisory role.
"The QBS board can come up with a list of possible firms that meet the councils recommendations and then the council can decide, based on the quality of work the firms selected have done in the past, which ones should remain on the list to do work for the parish," he said.
"Right now, the system in place calls for the board to select the firm and then the council to vote on whether or not to keep the firm."
Scholle says delays like this hold up work that needs to be done in the parish for weeks, sometimes even a couple of months.
"I'm looking at working with a local engineering company to help us to apply for permits and things like that," he said. "The local company is familiar with the workings of St. Charles Parish, and on smaller projects like these, they are willing to look into helping us secure permits."
According to the proposal making its way to the council, once a firm is approved, they stay on as a top choice for at least a year.
"The council can look at the company's work history and what projects they've completed in the past, how long it took them and if they are still working on major projects now," he said. "And then they can go to their second choice on the list, and so on and so forth."
Scholle got the idea from the way Jefferson Parish issues their contracts.
"There's been a lot of controversy over contracts that the parish president has the authority to assign that are up to $20,000," he said. "If it works in Jefferson Parish and their budget to run their parish is five times greater than ours, then why can't we try it here?"
The plan details specific steps for contracts less than $20,000, those between $20,000 and less than $300,000, and projects over $300,000. It includes keeping the parish council informed on every aspect of the progress of parish projects.
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