The city has found the engineering firm that will perform the engineering services for the Waggoner Street repair project, set its overall budget and approved a grant administrator.
At a September meeting of the Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the board approved a project budget totaling $315,000, as well as an engineering services agreement with Griggs and Maloney Inc. for the design work.
While the total project budget is $315,000, the city’s portion of that budget is only $90,000, as the remaining $225,000 is provided under state grant funds from a Community Development Block Grant the city received. The grant was approved on an emergency use basis earlier this summer, as the portion of Waggoner Street that is currently failing proved to be an imminent threat to the community.
According to a memo from City Administrator Jennifer Moody, the city has been “actively seeking support” from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to complete “critical repairs to failing roadway and storm drainage infrastructure” along Waggoner Street. The board approved a resolution supporting the city’s application for the grant in March.
Griggs and Maloney Inc. will provide engineering and environmental services related to replacing the culverts and repairing the road and sidewalk along West Waggoner Street, according to the memo.
At the meeting, Moody explained that Griggs and Maloney has previously performed work for the city, including replacing failing sidewalks in the downtown area. A representative from the company, Ryan Maloney, was also in attendance at the meeting at Moody’s request.
Mayor Ray Knowis asked if Maloney had reviewed the project, which Maloney said he had. Maloney said the amount of grant funding would assist the firm with a “direct culvert replacement,” though his firm would also examine other options with city staff to do due diligence.
This motion was approved unanimously by the board.
The grant will be administered by the South Central Tennessee Development District for a cost of $14,000 for a consulting services agreement. This portion of the project was approved in a separate motion from the other two portions of the project and was the only portion any aldermen opposed.
Alderman Jenna Amacher expressed her disapproval in the city paying $14,000 to do work that city staff could potentially do.
Moody clarified the South Central Tennessee Development District was required to do a number of things in compliance with federal statues, including interviewing and evaluating laborers onsite to ensure that the proper laborers are performing their specified skilled labor.
Amacher questioned the city’s desire to outsource the work.
“Fourteen thousand dollars to make sure that they’re getting paid correctly?” she asked the city administrator, noting that she felt the expenditure was wasteful.
Knowis pointed out that the development district had worked with the city in securing the grant in the first place. Moody added that the district was well-versed in administering grants with federal requirements.
Amacher said she personally would not support it.
Alderman Daniel Berry then asked if it would cost the city more than $14,000 to have its own staff members overseeing the project, including pulling them off current projects, training them on the record-keeping software, training them on how to properly interview the employees at the construction site and more, to which Moody said it was more of a matter of capacity.
“The development district is providing the capacity for us to be able to administer a federal grant that, quite honestly, if we didn’t have their support, we would not have applied for the grant,” Moody said. “We just don’t have the staff to administer this vigorous of a project.”
Amacher then claimed that Berry’s support of the motion was likely due to the fact that he works with South Central Tennessee.
“I mean, you work for South Central Tennessee, so I’m sure that, even though it’s a separate entity—I realize that—you obviously are going to be an advocate of the organization you work for,” she said.
However, Berry works with the South Central Tennessee Tourism Association, which is a separate entity from the South Central Tennessee Development District.
“I don’t work for that,” he said. “It’s completely separate, has no relation whatsoever at all. It’s like working at Wendy’s or McDonald’s.”
Ultimately, the board approved that motion 6-1 with only Amacher opposed.