Commissioners debate how to control expenses while picking contractors

GREENFIELD — A heated discussion over how the county should do business with engineering firms has divided members of the county commissioners.

The commissioners have been looking for a company to analyze public buildings so they can plan ahead for brick-and-mortar expenses.

Last month, commissioners Derek Towle and Tom Stevens decided to use DLZ Indiana, a firm the county has used for many county projects in the past. The consulting/engineering firm also has been a big contributor to commissioners’ election campaigns. But Commissioner Brad Armstrong, who wasn’t at the meeting last month, said two weeks ago more companies should be considered.

Tuesday, as representatives from DLZ and two other firms stood by to give presentations to the commissioners, a heated debate arose over how the board should watch out for county expenses while hiring quality contractors.

“I don’t think you did your due diligence in making that decision before you looked into another company,” Armstrong told Stevens and Towle. “Our job is to purchase services. DLZ has done a lot of work in the county; not all of it has been to the level that I think is acceptable.”

While commissioners had agreed two weeks ago that more companies could make presentations, the plan fell apart Tuesday when DLZ gave a presentation without a price. The other two companies had listed a cost for their services.

“I want to look at cost and what it is you provide,” Armstrong said.

But Stevens, before he even heard presentations from Etica and RQAW, said DLZ stands above any other firm because of its past work with the county and its familiarity with the courthouse and annex.

“I don’t want this county to ever have the reputation of making professional selections based on price,” he added.

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