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|Council considers lucrative consulting contract|
The Monroe City Council will consider hiring a Shreveport firm to oversee its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program to make sure the city follows federal guidelines.
During Tuesday's regular meeting, the city council introduced an ordinance to hire Hall Builders for consulting services on Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.
The federal DBE program is designed to ensure discrimination does not occur when contracts are awarded for Department of Transportation and Development projects.
The city's DBE program has recently been a subject of discussion in a lawsuit filed by EnviroTech Services of New Orleans.
EnviroTech Services was the apparent low bidder for the $35 million Monroe Regional Airport terminal project. Bids for the new terminal were opened in June.
However, EnviroTech Services' bid was rejected since it did not meet requirements of the state bid law.
The city council agreed to award the contract to he next lowest bidder, Lincoln Builders of Ruston.
EnviroTech Services is represented by former state Sen. Charles Jones.
EnviroTech Services is a minority-owned business and attorneys for the New Orleans firm have questioned the validity of the city's DBE program.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Alvin Sharp is expected make a ruling on the EnviroTech Services lawsuit against the city sometime in December.
The proposed contract with Hall Builders states the Shreveport firm would assist the city with its DBE program to "ensure that all contracts comply with applicable rules and regulations of the law."
If approved by the city council at its Nov. 10 meeting, the consulting firm would be retained for two years at a cost of $85,200.
According to the contract, if the consulting firm is required to "expend more hours than estimated" the city would be charged $125 an hour for additional services.
The ordinance was introduced Tuesday with no discussion by the city council.
Following the meeting, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said, "My request to the city council to enter into an agreement with Hall Builders has nothing to do with the lawsuit, but it has everything to do with my desire as mayor to identify Disadvantaged Business Enterprises for projects and to come into agreement with as many DBEs as we can so they will have an opportunity to work on contracts as well."
He said if the city council approves the contract with Hall Builders, the Shreveport firm will monitor work at the Monroe Regional Airport's new terminal to make sure the percentage of DBE participation is increased.