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City set to re-up on MPO contract

City set to re-up on MPO contract


City set to re-up on MPO contract

WM Public Works moves to continue relationship with Brawley firm

The West Memphis Public Works Committee nodded its approval for a new contract with the West Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization after hearing from MPO Study Director Eddie Brawley during a July 7 meeting.

Brawley reviewed the contract, which totaled $400,000 annually, with Public Works commissioners, who then voted to refer the contract to the West Memphis City Council.

The agreement is a fouryear contract, with the first year approved. The contract, based on audit results, is renewable, one year at a time, for an additional three years.

Federal funds pick up 80 percent of the costs to run the local organization, with the additional 20 percent matched by local government entities. “Marion and the county share with West Memphis in the 20 percent cost,” explained West Memphis City Engineer Phillip Sorrell.

Requests for proposals were sent to three engineering firms that expressed in- terest in heading up the traffic study and road improvement process in the Marion and West Memphis area. But only Brawley’s Brawley Consulting Engineers responded.

“We went through the selection process per federal guidelines,” said Sorrell.

“This is a one-year contract with an extension for three subsequent years — a potential total for four years.”

The price amounted to a five-figure increase according to the city engineer.

“This is approximately $20,000 higher than the previous contract executed four years ago,” said Sorrell. “Most of that is in the audited overhead rate for the firm.”

Councilman Willis Mondy asked about the competitive bid process.

“We had eight engineering firms that submitted letters of interest,” said Sorrell.

“We narrowed that down to three and asked for proposals from those three. Once they saw the scope of work, Brawley was the only one that submitted a proposal.”

The West Memphis MPO stands out as unique among MPO across the country, as most communities with Metropolitan Planning Organizations operate in cities with a population over 50,000. West Memphis is about half that size (although with the rest of the county figured in, the total does flirt with 50,000). Most MPOs operate as part of a municipal government, so the arrangement with a contracted

engineer is also special.

“We’re the smallest MPO.

We’re the only one in the country that outsources this, but we’ve been doing this since the ‘80s,” said Sorrell. “This a unique contract. It is very specialized.

It requires someone with local presence.”

“It would be a massive undertaking for someone (besides Brawley) to take it over,” said Public Works chair, city councilwoman Ramona Taylor.

By John Rech

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