OGDEN — Ogden City’s final budget was adopted in June, but more than a half million dollars in new funds were added to it this week.
The city’s redevelopment agency board, which is made up of the seven members of the City Council, approved a budget amendment Tuesday night that will increase the fiscal 2020 budget by $545,000. The amendment accounts for new funds needed to make a series of repairs at the parking structure west of The Junction and to pay a contractor to help the city develop a new Downtown Master Plan.
In May, the city administration presented the proposed RDA budget, which included $250,000 for a Denver-based planning firm, called “Design Workshop,” which was hired by the administration to build a new master plan for the city’s downtown area.
But the RDA board had questions about the contract and the item was ultimately removed from the budget in June, with the caveat it could be added later after the board was briefed more thoroughly on the contract and the public process involved in developing the downtown plan.
On June 25, the board voted to hold a public hearing on the budget amendment, which subsequently included another $295,000 to conduct repairs at the parking structure.
“We have quite a bit of need at The Junction for the parking structures and the ramp,” said Monica Kapp, project coordinator for the city Fleet and Facilities Department.
Kapp said the concrete is falling on the structure’s ramp, with rebar exposed in some locations, though the overall structural integrity is good. Support beams were added to the structure in 2015 and a structural engineer analyzed parking garages last year, determining it sound.
A point of contention with the measure surfaced when council member Luis Lopez expressed concerns about the two budget items being wrapped into the same amendment. Lopez said he supported the parking structure funding, but had concerns about the funding for the contractor. Lopez said he wasn’t necessarily concerned about the qualifications of the firm or the downtown plan, but did have issues with “openness and fairness” in the process.
“Personally, I’m in favor of the repairs for parking structures, but don’t know that I necessarily support the other item,” Lopez said.
Design Workshop was selected by the administration through a process known as a “sole-source” procurement, which means a government entity enters into a contract without a competitive bid process, justified by the fact that only one known source for the work exists or that only one single firm can best fulfill the contract.
Ogden Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development Brandon Cooper said the city is allowed by law to do sole source procurement and that Design Workshop was chosen because they had specific, relatable experience. The company was involved in a Denver revitalization project, which included infrastructure, a downtown river configuration and city age similar to what’s in Ogden.
As for pricing the project, Cooper said the city uses prior knowledge from similar projects to gage what is fair.
“You generally have an idea of what your request should cost based on research and experience,” Cooper said. “We can gage a price point on which we’d feel comfortable spending. We’ve done a number of master plans... we have an understanding of what something like this would cost.”
Lopez made a motion to split the two items into two separate votes, but the measure ultimately failed and the board voted on both items together. The measure eventually passed by a vote of 5-2. Lopez and Council Vice Chair Angela Choberka were the dissenting votes. Choberka said she was uncomfortable with the sole source procurement process as well.
“I believe in the project,” Choberka said. “I just don’t believe in the process we went by to get there.”