Councilman Questions Cheyenne Mayor’s Emergency Pothole Funding
Cheyenne City Councilman Rocky Case is questioning Mayor Marian Orr's emergency allocation of $250,000 to pay for a private contractor to patch up potholes on city streets.
The mayor in an August 9 memo, said the emergency procurement was needed to deal with an unusually high number of potholes on city streets.
In a Friday email to Townsquare Media of Cheyenne, she offered the following comment:
''With both a wet spring and open positions in our street and alley division that we can’t fill - there is continuous work to be done. It’s a very tight job market right now. We have street repair work that must get done and a short season to do it. We’ve reached out the private sector to help us get the work done using funds that have been budgeted and allocated for street repairs.''
But in a Friday morning phone interview, Case said the threshold in city code for appropriations not authorized by the city council is $35,000. ''and this rises well above that threshold." He also says that while potholes are certainly a problem "is there a planning problem within the department? I'm not sure how this rises to the level of an emergency, to spend that kind of money without council approval."
He said it's not a problem of the money not being available, but rather a question 'of spending that kind of money without council discussion and proper vetting of the bids and so forth." In response to a question about whether the mayor had the legal authority to order the emergency allocation, Case said he "would like to hear a legal opinion" on that issue.
You can hear the entire interview with Councilman Case in the video below.
In response to Case's comments, the mayor issued the following statement
''This is authorization is absolutely within my duties as mayor. And it's not the first time we've used a contract like this perform necessary work. The council has approved the funds. The voters have approved the funds. We use $4.5M a year from 5th penny funds for road repair. This contract is well within that amount. And we have a very good plan in place including mapping of priority needs. By doing this work now we will be getting ahead of what would be an even worse pothole spring season situation next year.''
In her letter authorizing the emergency spending, Mayor Orr said the city Engineering Department is recommending that the patchIng work be completed by November 1 and that going through the normal bidding process would not allow that timeline to be met.
The mayor on Friday also released an August 9 letter from Public Works Director Vicki Nemecek requesting the funding. The letter reads in part:
"Our recommendation is to use emergency procedures to bid a $250,000 contract to address the situation. The funding will come from $4.5 million of Fifth Penny Sales Tax allocated for road repairs. The Pavement Manager suggested we use half of the $500,000 allocation we normally put toward patching each year to immediately address this unforeseen problem created by a significantly long and wet spring. The Street & Alley Manager added that they have been short personnel for several months and have not been able to find qualified operators. This situation, along with the variety of other work required to meet citizen needs, has impeded their ability to complete pothole repairs in a timely manner.''