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Council opts for no action on engineering

| Saturday, May 5, 2012, 9:03 a.m.

Murrysville Council decided the best action was no action regarding engineering services for the municipality.

At its budget workshop meeting Wednesday night, council debated for about 45 minutes whether hiring an in-house engineer was a better move than retaining Glenn Engineering on a consulting basis.

Glenn's contract, which provides a staff member for two hours per day, expires in February. Council members finally agreed that the decision should be made when the new council takes office next month.

The long discussion came as the proposed 2006 spending plan was outlined by finance director and acting chief administrator Diane Heming.

For 2005, $80,000 was allocated for contracted/professional engineering services, but the estimated year-end cost is $135,000, or almost 69 percent over budget. The proposed budget allocates $139,000 for that item.

Councilman Jack Bankoske, who along with Theo Van de Venne, Bob Brooks and Dennis Pavlik will be part of the new council, argued for keeping a consulting engineer. He said Glenn's work on two projects skewed the overall cost of his services higher but that the arrangement actually saved the municipality money.

Council President Larry Keller also observed that Glenn's staff has numerous layers of engineering expertise versus what a civil engineer can offer.

"I don't think we can say that having an in-house engineer will cover all things," Keller said.

However, Heming and Mayor Joyce Somers emphasized that Mark Haug, the staff engineering technician, has to perform tasks not covered by Glenn's contract. That includes handling administrative paperwork and updating the Glenn staff member on day-to-day municipal matters. All of that takes Haug away from his regular duties.

"Mark can't be out in the field, doing administrative work here and preparing everything for Glenn's people to look at," Heming said. "It's not working right. It may work on paper but there are things being missed."

Keller said the answer might be to have Glenn's staff member handle certain tasks for Murrysville. Van de Venne said he did not think the arrangement can work unless the staffer spends at least half a day in the municipality.

Keller and Councilman Bill Ferri suggested that the new council should make the final decision on engineering services that would best serve the municipality. Van de Venne concurred.

"I think we should leave the budget as is and we should get together with Mr. Glenn early next year and explore other options and what the cost would be," he said.

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