The Common Council will reconsider who will handle a small remodeling project at City Hall after a council member was originally hired to do the job.
“I was the one who made the motion,” Ald. Mike Kempf said during the council’s Jan. 16 meeting. “I went to the mayor and said we should get more bids.”
As a result, the council voted to reconsider the quote for a remodeling project at City Hall.
Ald. Bruce Brunner abstained.
On Jan. 5, the city’s Public Property & Purchasing Committee voted to hire Brunner to clean and remodel the basement of City Hall for no more than $2,400 in labor costs.
That recommendation was subsequently approved by the Common Council at its Jan. 5 meeting.
During the Jan. 16 meeting of the council, Mayor Don Morgan said several council members approached him, saying they believed if Brunner, who does construction work, handled the project, some citizens might say he was just appointed to the council and was now hired to do a project for the city.
On Dec. 7, Brunner was appointed to fill the vacant 1st Ward seat on the council.
Members of the Public Property & Purchasing Committee discussed the storage needs at City Hall on Jan. 5. According to the minutes from that meeting, Brunner and Ald. Jim Zandrow came up with a plan for how to deal with those needs.
At the latest council meeting, Brunner said, “Maybe I helped you get the ball rolling. Maybe that is where it should stop, and then, I don’t even go after the job.”
Ald. Chuck Gerlach said if the project went out to bid and Brunner had the lowest bid, the council would then have no problem defending its decision.
“I was the one who went to the mayor. I wanted to protect you,” he said to Brunner.
Brunner said that even if was the lowest bidder, some would still question the decision.
“Talk would happen regardless,” he said. “Either way, it could be misunderstood.”
Initially the cost of the project was split, with the city covering material costs and Brunner then being hired for the labor only. That is why the city had not been required to seek bids for it.
With the council voting to now reconsider the quote for the project, the material costs will not be divided out of the project, City Administrator Sheryl Scheuermann said.
The matter will now go back to the city’s Public Property & Purchasing Committee.
“I can be a reference,” Brunner said. “I can see it in my mind and know what I would do.”