Too much cash for consultants?

Too much cash for consultants?

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The Amarillo City Council narrowly approved paying outside consultants more than $700,000 to help city staff plan future projects.

The high price tag had the council divided, asking why staff cannot do the surveying themselves.

This money was issued for professional services for capital project management, a pavement condition survey, and a solid waste service review.

City staff tells us it's actually more expensive to hire full time employees to help with these needs, but some of the city council believes spending money to manage money is just a waste of money.

To help manage the $110 million of capital projects from last year's election, the city has opted to spend $233,580 for a consultant.

"This will allow us to evaluate our staff, our processes, and implement best practices from around the country and improve what we do," said Floyd Hartman, Director of Capital Projects.

Another budgeted $363,320 will fund a survey of the pavement conditions of Amarillo's roads, and $123,680 will pay to help maximize customer service for solid waste collection.

"It will take a deep look at some of our core operations and make sure we have adequate staffing, and adequate resources to provide the services we're providing," said Raymond Lee, Director of Public Works. "Or do we need additional resources to raise the level of services we're giving to the citizens of Amarillo?"

None of the outside survey items passed unanimously by the city council Tuesday evening.

The solid waste collection survey barely passed with a 3-2 vote, as some council members do not think this and the other studies are necessary expenditures.

But the slim majority said outside consulting is needed to move city projects forward, naming it the best option.

"We could hire the expertise full time, which is very expensive," said council member Mark Nair. "We can hope for the best. And our staff is great, I'm not disparaging that, but there are methods, methodologies and things, that we can do now to learn from other places. That's the whole focus of what we've been doing for the past 18 months."

These are likely not the last consulting firms the city will hire for guidance, as these are budgeted items that do not pull from other city funds.

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