From today’s Sentinel:

Debate lingers on builder for police facility
City Council debates override of mayor’s veto
By Winston Jones
Staff Writer

The decision on a contractor to design and build the new Douglasville public safety and municipal court building remained in limbo late Tuesday night as the city council debated on whether to override a mayoral veto.

Douglasville Mayor Mickey Thompson Tuesday vetoed the city council’s March 16 decision to give New South Construction the bid to build the city’s new $23 million public safety and municipal court building.

The action came at an 8 p.m. Tuesday special called city council meeting at Douglasville City Hall.

The city council has also scheduled a called meeting at 7:30 p.m. today to consider the mayor’s action and to possibly attempt an override of the veto. An override would require “yes” votes from five of the seven council members. It would reinstate New South as the winning bidder.

Councilman Terry Miller made a motion to override the veto at Tuesday’s meeting, sparking a spirited discussion on what course to take. He argued that although the decision process may not have been perfect, all three firms under consideration were equally qualified. He said the ad hoc committee spent long hours in its evaluation and “we ended up with a good choice.” He urged the process move forward to avoid delays.

Thompson said he had scheduled back-to-back meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday to provide the two required readings of the veto and obtain a decision without delay.

In his prepared veto statement, Thompson said the bid rating process and the forms used to calculate totals were “complicated and difficult to understand.” He claimed this complexity made it difficult for the council to accurately rate the three bidding firms.

“This was obvious during the final selection where city staff, which were tallying the votes, requested at least one council member to complete another form to re-rate the firms,” the mayor said.

Thompson also alleged that events occurred the weekend before the vote was taken that put the decision in question.

“(These) are events that, while presumably within the letter of the law, I consider to be outside the normal process and practices for fair and unbiased selection of a bidder or proposer which the city has established for this project or any other project for the city of Douglasville,” Thompson said.

Thompson called for an executive session and it was approved. He said this was needed to discuss the events in his second allegation, saying that the discussion involved personnel matters.

New South narrowly edged out finalists Heery International Inc. and Holder Construction Company, the council’s Public Safety Committee announced March 16 after a lengthy discussion before the regular council meeting.

The 60,000-square-foot, two-story facility will be built on 22 acres of city-owned land south of Interstate 20, adjacent to Hillside Drive on Fairburn Road. The land is also expected to house smaller ancillary buildings and civilian and employee parking lots.

In other action at Tuesday night’s called meeting, city council unanimously approved:

• the purchase of 2.062 acres of land, located between South Hillcreast Drive and the city of Douglasville’s owned site for the planned Public Safety and Municipal Court Building from Richard L. Tuley Jr., estate co-administrator, for a price of $50,000;

• and submission of a health promotion grant application to Georgia Municipal Association for a 2009 Health and Wellness Grant.