It’s a concept being utilized successfully in other communities. In lieu of hiring a full-time city engineer, they are contracting with an on-call engineering firm.
On Monday night, the Great Bend City Council approved a similar arrangement. It authorized Mayor Mike Allison to sign an engineering services agreement with Professional Engineering Consultants of Wichita.
“I think this is going to be a money saver,” Allison said. “I am really excited about it.”
The city had first sought to hire a replace for City Engineer Robert Winiecke who resigned last July. A committee was formed for this purpose.
However, this search proved unsuccessful, said City Administrator Howard Partington. So, the committee changed gears to look for a consulting engineering firm instead.
The City Engineer Selection Committee reviewed qualifications from nine firms and interviewed three of them. The committee recommended entering into a contract with Professional Engineering Consultants P.A. for provision of on call engineering services.
Partington said PEC came with excellent references and has experience in such partnerships with Valley Center, Haysville and Wellington.
The agreement calls for a $800-per-month retainer fee which will include on-site representation and attendance at a maximum of one staff meeting per month, workshops, and regularly scheduled council Meetings when required. It will also include telephone questions to PEC that don’t require a lot of an engineer’s time.
Above and beyond that, the city can negotiate a contract with PEC for larger projects or pay a per-hour fee. This rate will be around $105, but varies upon the size of the project and the PEC employees involved.
“We went after firms that can handle anything,” Partington said. With 250 employees, PEC will be able to tackle sewer, street and other construction ventures.
“This is definitely worth trying for a couple of years,” Councilman Dana Dawson said. In the long run, the retainer and occasional contact work will be less costly than hiring an engineer.