BOSSIER CITY, La. – A private company that’s been heading up the city’s public works department for the past five years appears to be headed to another three-year contract following an introductory vote Tuesday by the City Council.
It wasn’t unanimous, though. Council member Jeffery Darby was the lone no vote.
Darby was complimentary of Manchac Consulting Group’s services but wondered if seeking offers from other private companies would have brought a better deal.
“Competition for services is good for citizens,” he said.
But Councilman David Montgomery led a passionate review of how he said Manchac has benefited the city, saying the public-private relationship was “truly a game changer for the taxpayers of Bossier City.”
Manchac took over when the city was running a $2 million deficit in its public works department, had a "deteriorating system" and "deteriorating morale." The council also was faced with considering another water rate hike.
The arrangement with Manchac came about after brainstorming and many meetings. The city has now gone to a $3 million annual savings above what it pays the company for its services and personnel, Montgomery said.
The Manchac contract came under scrutiny in April when the terms and fees were questioned by incoming Mayor-elect Tommy Chandler and two of three newly elected council members. That contract would have extended Manchac’s services five years, giving the new administration, which takes over July 1, no say in the matter.
Changes were made in the contract to satisfy the concerns. The final vote will happen at the next meeting.
Engineer Ben Rauschenbach pointed out the company is managing $150 million in capital projects for the city with three people.
Along those lines, Manchac is overseeing the Walter O. Bigby Carriageway project – the largest road project in the city’s history. Bids were opened on phase 2 of the project earlier in the meeting.
Manchac had estimated the work at $37 million. The bids ranged from almost $37.6 million to almost $50 million.
In other matters, the council:
- Approved annexation of 258 acres of property owned by Greco-Miciotto Properties LLC. The annexation was requested for “future commercial development.”
- Pulled from the agenda a noise ordinance initially proposed by Darby. He said he would look at existing ordinances and possibly ask for revisions at a later time.
Editor’s note: This version corrects that the vote was taken on the first reading of the amended contract. A final vote will be at the next meeting.