Gilmer declines to join other cities in street work contracts

Published on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 16:03 - Written by BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS, Special Correspondent

GILMER -- The Gilmer City Council on Tuesday voted not to authorize the development of an interlocal agreement with neighboring cities to obtain street improvements.

City Manager Jeff Ellington told the council he had been at a recent city managers' meeting when Gladewater City Manager Sean Pate asked if area cities would be interested in a "group effort" to obtain seal coat paving. That would save money by having the cities use the same engineering firm, Schaumburg and Polk, Ellington said.

Ellington said the proposal was to have the cities of Kilgore and White Oak join Gilmer and Gladewater in the venture. While he appreciated Pate's offer, Ellington said, he recommended disapproving the idea, saying his biggest concern was that his city would not have total control over the work in Gilmer.

He said that was because Polk and Schaumburg would handle the bidding and is not the same engineering firm the city has been using .

"We would have partial control and I'm gonna be honest with you. I've never done that. I'm a little bothered by it," Ellington said. "If I'm gonna ride the horse, I want to hold the reins."

When Councilman Michael Chevalier asked how much money the city would save by joining the venture, Ellington said the engineer who called him "can't tell me, and that bothers me." Ellington said he had not talked to Kilgore and White Oak officials to see if they planned to enter the agreement.

In addition, while saying Polk and Schaumburg was a good, "reputable" firm, the city manager said he hadn't worked with it and that he would feel more comfortable working with Longview engineer Stan Hayes, who the city has used.

Ellington additionally said he was told the project would cost $150,000 to $175,000 per city, and he said Gilmer's funding would have to come from reserve funds since it was not included in the recently-approved city budget for 2014-15.

"I'm not for doling out that kind of money" without total control, said Mayor Pro Tem William Hornsby. Councilman Brian Williams meantime objected that being "mandated" to do something is "not doing our town any justice."

The vote was 6-0, with Mayor R.D. (Buck) Cross absent since he was out of town, to reject entering the joint venture.