A Weatherford company was the lone, and ultimately successful, bidder to provide engineering services should the city prevail in a downtown improvements grant application.
The city plans to submit an application to the Texas Department of Agriculture seeking a $350,000 grant to make certain downtown improvements. The funds are federal pass-through Community Development Block Grant dollars administered by TDA.
With four council members present for Wednesday's specially called noon meeting, council unanimously awarded the engineering services contract to Jacob & Martin, which provides an array of architectural and engineering services with locations in Abilene, Weatherford and Lubbock.
The grant deadline is Sept. 30, leaving the city a narrow window to complete the grant application. Two weeks ago council approved GrantWorks as its grant administrator if the application is awarded. The naming of a grant administrator and engineer were needed to complete the grant application.
City Manager Randy Criswell said the city would add a 20 percent match, or $70,000, to the grant if approved, making it a total of $420,000. He said the city's share could come from in-kind services or cash, or a combination. Any monetary amount from the city could come from fund balance or the city's downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone fund.
"We are not that far along," Criswell told the Index.
First is completing and submitting the application, Criswell said. He said $175,000 of the grant has to go toward Americans With Disabilities Act improvements downtown. The remainder of proposed improvements is up to the city to determine and specify within its application.
"You have to define what you are going to do with that money," the city manager said.
Criswell said the grants are competitive, so the city will try and compile an application as strong as possible for TDA's consideration, based on the application's criteria and scoring.
Several council members expressed concerns with Jacob & Martin being the lone respondent to the city's request for engineering services qualifications and bids.
Criswell explained the request was made public, published and the city typically sends proposal packets to known companies or firms in hopes of receiving responses and bids.
"I always hate when we get just one submission," said Ward 4 Councilman Doyle Light. "We are always better served when we have a choice."
Ward 1 Councilman Jerrel Tomlin agreed with Light, but noted the approaching deadline to submit the grant application.
"It's the only choice we have but I will be scrutinizing this going forward," said Mayor Christopher Perricone of the city's process in requesting requests for proposals and qualifications.
Attending the special session with Perricone, Tomlin and Light was Councilman Brian Shoemaker.