Last night's Council meeting was like watching a group of pre-teens in a ballroom dance contest.
Casey Hargrove asked the City Engineer about 1.1 Million Dollars laying in two accounts called Engineering and Professional Services and about the function of this funding in the Red Oak Road Project.
The new City Engineer got caught in the web of BS woven by the City Manager months ago.
Apparently the City Manager was asked twice since November to provide an answer to this question and has never done so. That put the City Engineer in a very untenable position of having to defend the line items without complete knowledge of the "why and wherefore". It was written on her face. She tried to explain that $400K was set aside for "platting fees". Mr. Hargrove shot back that this was a little much for platting. I do believe Mr. Hargrove is quite qualified to make such statements as he is a developer. The CE "called for back-up" and frankly did not receive anything more than a request from Mr. Pfiefer to Mr. Hargrove to "please come by the office and staff would try and assuage Mr. Hargrove's concerns.
The exchange was left dangling at that point. The CE and City Manager were not looking very good at that time. Looking around the room, there was little Council support for the CE on this one. It was not a very good night for City staffers. Staff were caught unprepared. As a technical staffer, I know my budget, how it is to be spent, provide a full disclosure and am able to anticipate and answer questions from my respective boards when making a public report.
My point? Why is this money laying around doing nothing for the project. If it is contingency funding, call it contingency and answer Council questions. It's a very simple process to move funds from one line item to another. If this money could be used to expedite the project, why is it such a contentious issue for the Council and City Manager? That's a managerial disconnect in my book...not a conspiracy.
I'll keep an eye on this one. I'm thinking some of the Council members are starting to build their cases. This is minor; but, a "lack of confidence" and "style differences" have sunk many a professional in the real world.