Resident threatens lawsuit over pool design contract
Roger Shilling said he's not against the city getting a new pool.
In fact, he has no doubt there is a need for a new pool. What Shilling, a Tonganoxie resident, is against is the way the city handled what he called the "nonbidding" process for the pool's design and construction.
To let the city know how he felt, at the May 29 City Council meeting, he handed out a letter he wrote warning he would take legal action if the city did not place the contracts for the pool up for bid.
"This is kind of a preliminary warning letting them know that (the council) should reconsider their bid policy before they finalize their contracts," Shilling said. "If they don't, then I will tie up the construction with an injunction.
"Do they want a swimming pool this year or do they want a swimming pool the year after?"
After a 36-hour waiting period in which Shilling did not receive any response from the council, he asked his attorney, Price Banks, to file to seek the injunction.
"All they have to do is play by the book. If they do that then they can have their pool," Shilling said.
City officials, though, said they are playing by the book.
City Attorney Mike Kelly said state lay allows Class Two and Class Three cities to bypass the bidding process. Because of population, Tonganoxie falls under the category of a Class Three city.
He also said the city has a policy for purchases and bidding.
"The city does have a policy on acquisition on services and goods depending on what the city is trying to get," Kelly said. 'There is not a blanket rule for every situation; it depends on the dollar amount and what the city is seeking."
According to the city of Tonganoxie purchasing authority and procedures, any purchase or service more than $15,000 needs to be handled by a sealed bid process. This includes the city obtaining professional services from architects and engineers, with the exception of the city's engineer.
The only time a bidding process is not needed is if the "governing body determines that there is only one source available."
At the April 23 council meeting, Council member Jim Truesdell made a motion to take into consideration the city's best interest by selecting Sullivan Palmer Architects for "not only price, but also technical and/or professional competency and agree that the professional services are uniquely applicable for this project."
"At this case, state law should prevail," said Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator. "If they want to continue, the attorney general can make a determination."
The city's design contract with Sullivan Palmer Architects calls for paying the architects $176,000 or 6.8 percent of the total costs of the new pool.
Bard said that 6.8 percent was a competitive rate for a pool design.
Sullivan Palmer Architects drew the conceptual design for the pool. The design was shown to voters before an April referendum on a three-quarters of a percent sales tax that would fund construction of a new pool.
The contract with Sullivan Palmer is for design of the pool, not its construction.
The bidding process for the actually construction work is scheduled to take place later this year.