Why Minnetrista needs a staff city engineer

A 178 page document, written by the city’s contract engineering firm, WSB Engineering, was provided to council members less than 2 business days prior to the council meeting on March 18 where we would be asked to approve the plans and specifications for Minnetrista’s 2019 street improvement projects that will cost the city over $800,000 this year. This Plans & Specifications document lays out the engineering specifications and bidding requirements for the year’s road projects. Would it surprise anyone that this document was never reviewed by a qualified, impartial party?

I asked our legal counsel if he had reviewed the 178 page document and he indicated he had not. I expressed a concern that none of our council members are engineers, qualified to assess whether or not these plans and specifications should be approved, nor do we have anyone on staff qualified to review them (other than WSB, the contractor that wrote them). My concerns were minimalized by our City Administrator who essentially said we should trust our contract engineering firm, WSB, who authored the document, to review it on our behalf. In my opinion, that would be appropriate had they no financial interest in the street improvement projects. But. They. Do.

I voted not to approve the plans and specifications. However, the rest of the council approved them, regardless of their ability to understand them. I wasn’t surprised by this, nor was I surprised that the concerns I voiced during the March 18 council meeting were not mentioned in the meeting minutes. I  requested the minutes be amended to accurately reflect the concerns I raised.

Minnetrista needs a staff city engineer without a financial interest in the engineering projects required by the city. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t contract with outside engineering companies when necessary. It means we would have confidence our decisions prioritize Minnetrista residents’ interests over city contractors’.

 

 

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