Two items pulled from the Consent Agenda at the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 17 indicate a huge problem with the city awarding routine contracts not too far down the road.

Two contracts were pulled from the Consent Agenda for discussion. One contract had one responsive bidder and the other had two responsive bidders.

The Consent Agenda is a group of routine housekeeping-type items that are not supposed to warrant discussion and all 30 or so items are passed with one voice vote, which means these were routine contracts that are awarded regularly.

The current City Council spends an inordinate amount of time discussing these routine items that are not supposed to need discussion.

As usual, the issue that had “Item 2” hiring temporary workers for the Water Resources Department and “Item 6” hiring temporary workers for the Field Operations Department removed from the Consent Agenda were Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) concerns. In short neither company receiving contracts for temporary workers were recognized minority business enterprise firms.

The Water Resources Department contract was for three years and a total of $705,000. The city, after sending solicitation notices to 897 potential bidders, received one responsive bid and two bids that were considered nonresponsive. One of those nonresponsive bids was because the bidder didn’t fill out a form about “local preference.”

Item 6 was a contract to hire temporary employees for the Field Operations Department mainly for fall leaf pick-up.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan was ready to delay awarding that contract for a month and asked, “Is it time sensitive?”

Field Operations Director Dale Wyrick, with a somewhat panicked look on his face said, “It most certainly is time sensitive.”

For this contract there were two responsive bidders and the higher bid was from a registered MWBE. Councilmember Sharon Hightower was trying to find a way to award the contract to MWBE firm.

Even City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy became exasperated with Hightower’s antics on this one. Kennedy said that on this item they were talking about a 40 percent price difference. She said, “It would be completely irresponsible regardless of who the bidder is to take that.”

The low bid, which was awarded the contract, was for $1 million and MWBE contractor Hightower wanted to award the contract to the company that bid $1.45 million.

Hightower said, “Cost should not be the most important thing.”

Hightower also expressed concern that the temporary employees who will be working for an employment service, not the City of Greensboro, were only being paid $9 an hour. Hightower said that it should be $12.50 an hour.

Wyrick said, “All I need is the word to pay my temps $12.50 an hour and I will do it.” He added that this contract was within his budget and to pay $12.50 an hour he would need some more money.

The City Council passed the water resources contract on a 7-2 vote with Councilmembers Hightower and Yvonne Johnson voting no.

And the council passed the field operations contract on a 8-1 vote with Hightower voting no.