Gateway Sun

As expected, engineering firm Tetra Tech has a new contract with the Gateway Services Community Development District.

It came as no surprise.

In fact, on May 2, 2015 we wrote:

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The Supervisors have awarded Tetra Tech with a new three-year contract.

Well, technically they authorized the staff to negotiate a new contract with Tetra Tech, but unless someone does something foolish the new deal should be fairly straight-forward and be ready for final approval at the next board meeting on May 14, 2015.

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By now you probably realize that since we’re writing this article, it wasn’t straight-forward.

(Although it started out that way.)

At the May 14, 2015 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Operations Manager Scott Connell proudly announced to everyone in the room that the GSCDD and Tetra Tech had agreed to terms on a new 3-year contract.

Best of all, no increase in cost!

No change in terms whatsoever, actually. Everything stays the same and Gateway benefits from the continuity the comes with keeping our District Engineer.

It’s perfect. Put a bow on it and hand it over to the Supervisors for a vote.

Win-win for everyone.

Nice job GSCDD staff!

Supervisor Pam Gill made the motion to approve the 3-year Tetra Tech deal, then Chairman William Guy looked at the other Supervisors and asked for someone to second the motion.

Hunched back in his chair with his arms crossed and a slight frown, Supervisor Rod Senior obviously wasn’t ready to sign off on the new deal.

Supervisor Gary Neubauer seconded the motion which allowed the discussion to begin.

Senior voiced his concerns, saying, “There may be a case for doing a 1 year at a time, for at least 1 year. I know that our human resources consultant is working very hard on all fronts. We need to give him as much flexibility in making his recommendations. And one of his concerns is we’re doubling up on engineering talents. We have Ivan Velez who is a professional engineer and we also have an outsourced professional engineer … I think if we tie ourselves up for 3 years at this point it’s going to, to an extent, limit the amount of advice he can give us.”

Guy then read the termination clause in the contract aloud: “The contract may be terminated in whole or in part for non-performance, or for the convenience and without cause, at the District’s discretion.”

“That’s right. I read that,” replied Senior.

Well if Senior read that, then what’s the big deal?

Senior should understand that Gateway could have a 1 year, 3 year or 500 year deal with Tetra Tech and and it wouldn’t make any difference since the GSCDD can terminate the contract at any time.

To that point, Guy even asked Senior, “Well don’t you think that gives us enough leeway?”

Senior said, “It does. I’m just making sure we have that out on the table before we vote on it.”

“I appreciate that and I think that [Tetra Tech engineer] Mr. [Danny] Nelson appreciates knowing that,” said Guy.

“UHHMM,” interjected Neubauer, adding, “then, yeah. I’d like to kind of .. so .. why don’t we do it 1 year with a 2 year option?” asked Neubauer.

“I don’t like that,” said Guy.

Supervisor Pamela Gill added, “I don’t think [doing 1 year with a 2 year option] is necessary.”

What wasn’t necessary was the entire discussion.

Senior jumped back in, “We’ve hired an external person to look into all our specs of how we’re doing business, and one of his concerns is duplication of engineering. Most CDDs either have an on-board engineer or they contract out the engineer. It’s not very often you do both.”

Guy said, “You thankfully have made us aware of that, and you made Danny [Nelson] aware of that. And we have a motion and a second on the floor. If there’s no more discussion, all in favor say aye.”

Gill and Guy: “Aye!”

Guy looked at Neubauer, “No?”

Neubauer had just voted against the motion he seconded.

That’s something you don’t see very often.

Neubauer withdrew his seconding of the motion from earlier, so Guy surprisingly decided to just second it himself and hold the vote again.

Gill and Guy repeated their yes votes, while Neubauer and Senior still voted no. Vice-Chairman Margaret Fineberg had left earlier in the meeting.

With a 2-2 vote, the motion failed.

Neubauer then made a motion for his 1-year-with-2-year-option idea. Senior seconded.

Guy called Senior and Neubauer “unreasonable”, but both he and Gill voted in favor of Neubauer’s motion just to give Tetra Tech a new contract.

So Tetra Tech officially has a 1 year contract with an automatic 2-year option. Unless the GSCDD terminates the contract, which they can do any time they wish. (Which makes it completely different from a 3 year contract that can be terminated any time.)

Meanwhile, the Supervisors wasted 9 minutes discussing this (5% of the total meeting), we wasted an hour writing about it, and you just wasted 5 minutes reading about it.

With all that said, hat tip to the GSCDD staff for their great work in getting the contract renewed.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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