The council agenda for this Tuesday, August 23, includes the following item:
- Professional Services Contracts – Timing of Waiver and Notice. Proposed Ordinance 2011-45 amending Section 4-2B-9 to revise exceptions for contract approval. (Adopt/not adopt ordinance – roll call vote)
At present, Section 4-2B-9 of the Ogden City Code allows the mayor to waive competitive bidding for professional services, as long as he provides written justification and informs the city council. The loophole, however, is that it doesn't say when he must do these things.
On at least two occasions in recent years, the mayor has neglected to sign any waiver or inform the city council until after the contract was signed and the work completed. Both of these contracts were controversial. The first was for the 2006 gondola fiscal impacts study, paid for via a financial shell game that diverted a federal bus facilities grant through the Utah Transit Authority. The city council and the public didn't learn about the study, or how it was funded, until the following year. The second instance was for the recent field house feasibility study, which was contracted without competitive bidding even though the city council had been led to believe otherwise.
The Ogden Ethics Project applauds the city council for taking the initiative to close this loophole and thus keep itself, and the public, better informed about city contracting procedures. We hope this will be the first of many new ethics ordinances to be passed in the coming months.