Investigation into JFC proposal Part II

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Darrian Mechling
[email protected]

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (July 23, 2020) — As promised, Wyo4News has been investigating the JFC proposal. Digging deeper into the RFP process. Since Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Wyo4News has interviewed three city council members- Ryan Greene, Rob Zotti, and Keaton West. Follow the story for more updates and interviews as we continue to investigate.

Part one of the JFC proposal can be viewed here

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A little reminder: The Bitter Creek Restoration Project is an effort to clean up the Bitter Creek area and get the homes in that area out of the flood planes.

This project is funded by the Abandoned Mine Land Funds. (AML for short.)

In an interview with councilman Ryan Greene, he stated, that this is a project that is critical for the city. One that will help the residents that are within that flood plane.

“It’s been talked about for a long time. Bits and pieces throughout the year have been done and this is just continuing that work. The proposals were to oversee the next steps within that project.” Greene said.

The process: 
What is the difference between a proposal and a bid? A bid focuses mostly on price. A proposal is turned in to a city committee for review and scoring. Once the committee decides on the best proposal, it is submitted to the city council for a vote. The other proposals are not presented, and the city committee does not provide the council with any information. No access to scoring cards, or any relevant information that could change the outcome of the selected proposal. The entire process is extremely private.

How can a governing body weigh the options? Very simply, they can’t. In interviews with three city council members since the Tuesday night meeting, one opinion was shared by all. They could not justify making a decision to their constituents without all of the data.

There were three proposals that were turned into the city. The Friday before the meeting, council members received a packet that included the agenda and all of the attachments within to review. In that packet there was the review from the selection committee with the recommendation for JFC. Had the other two companies not called council members to inquire about the price difference, the council members would not have known about the $275,000 difference.

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Upon further investigation, it was revealed that there was only a 1.8 difference in the scores between the top two proposals. The actual price difference between the proposals was $275,000.

“So many factors go into these, they rank them they weigh them and then they select a proposal to recommend to the council to be approved. In this particular case, how it worked, is we did not see any of the proposals in advance of the recommendation. The city had received the JFC proposal and then after that was made public we started getting some phone calls.” Greene said.
“I know I myself received some phone calls from the other bidders. They requested that we look at this because they thought the price was out of line, and that their prices were half of what the successful was.”

“The actual number was a $275,000.00 cost difference. Public dollars or AML funds or public trust, all of these things, we have a responsibility as council to do our due diligence and serve these people within the best interest of the city and I think there is a lot of responsibility with that. I think the concern with the entire council was just getting the right decision. Making sure we had the data making sure we understood the proposals and making sure that we had the right information for the city of Rock Springs.
Being good patrons of the process and making sure that the AML funds were being used to the best of their ability.” Greene said. “Ultimately, If we use those funds irresponsibly it could impact our ability to receive additional AML funds down the line so we wanted to make sure – at least I know I did, and it sounds like many of the other council members did too. We did our research and our homework to get this decision right. These are public dollars that are available for these type of projects and they award these. So we want to make sure that Rock Springs is in that conversation and that we use those funds responsibly”

Potentially there could have been a risk with AML funds, by accepting the JFC proposal.

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“I think really what the premise of the problem was a lack of understanding of what those charges were. My standpoint I did not look at this as “JFC vs Western Eng. vs. William H Smith. Greene said. “I looked at it as proposal A, B, and C. and I looked at it with the cost as a driving factor in my desire to find out more about the services that were being provided.”

“So I do think there was a risk if we didn’t take a look at this and analyze it. I think the real risk lies in the lack of info. and my part, I just was not comfortable voting yes or pushing this forward without having the data or the information to support my decision. When i was appointed to the council I told the council that my decisions would be data driven and I uphold that and I reached out to the city to provide a cost breakdown of the additional $275 and I was told that it was not available – ‘I could not have it.’ Without that information, I did not feel that it was responsible to vote on.”

“I didn’t feel like the people that we serve would accept that as a governing body – voting on something without having all of the information. I never got a reason or a definitive answer of why we couldn’t have it. I don’t know why we can’t have it. I asked for a cost breakdown of just the additional $275. Basically a line item structure of the additional services and a high level summary. Really, something that we can summarize as apples to apples and I was just told “‘we don’t have it.'”

Councilmen Greene went on to say that he hopes they can give everyone a fair shot by changing the RFP process. He respects everyone on the council and appreciates those who spoke up and encouraged the open discussion during Tuesday’s meeting.

“We can fix this. By connecting with folks, dedication, and analyzing data for driven results.”

Stay tuned for updates and as Wyo4News continues to follow the story. Part III will feature interviews from councilmen Rob Zotti and Keaton West.

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