Farmington officials question MTC consultant charges

Farmington city officials have extended a consulting contract related to the Maxfield Training Center redevelopment, with a $40,000 cap.

Officials purchased the property from Farmington Public Schools last year, hoping to find a private partner to build housing on the 3-acre site. The city has already spent $37,000 with Community Image Builders (CIB), which is $7,000 over the original contract.

Maria Taylor David Delind Johnna Balk Farmington City Council

Council members have narrowed the list to two developers. Robertson Brothers Homes sees 59 owner-occupied townhomes on the site; River Caddis Development’s concept proposes a 124-unit apartment complex.

Hourly proposal for services

CIB, with subcontractor Eric Helzer of Advanced Redevelopment Solutions, helped officials with a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and vetting developers. In a letter, President Carmine Avanti listed future services that would include facilitating the development agreement, identifying economic development tools and incentives, help with funding applications, and more.

The letter set out an hourly fee arrangement, with regular progress updates. Mayor pro tem Joe LaRussa asked during Tuesday’s remote council meeting about working on a scope of services basis instead.

“We tried to do that with the first agreement, and we went over,” city manager David Murphy said. Multiple meetings required to draft the RFQ and council’s decision to interview all developers contributed to the overage, he added. 

Another month of work

Council member Steven Schneemann asked whether the original $30,000 was supposed to cover costs through the entire process. City attorney Tom Schultz said the agreement included “a very broad description of beginning to end kind of process.”

“I think you have to realize that you relied on them a lot to put together the RFQ,” he said. “They’re really just getting into the hard stuff… There’s a lot of work left to do. I don’t know whether we’re half way.”

Schneemann said the $30,000 seemed to him “a completely meaningless number.”

“I just don’t quite understand it,” he said. “If we double it, we could conceivably be back here in the next couple of months with them saying we’ve blown through another $30,000.”

“In fairness,” mayor Sara Bowman said, “I don’t think the council is having a long enough memory of what we’ve asked them to do and how much they’ve put in for the last six months. It took two months and four meetings just to get (the RFQ).”

LaRussa calculated that the $40,000 would cover about a month of services. He suggested a warning when costs approached that limit. Murphy said he could send council members a notice at the 80 percent mark.

“Our expectation is another $40,000,” Larussa said. “If it goes above that, we want to know why.”

Murphy also noted that the city could recoup consulting costs through the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.


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