VOL. 133 | NO. 69 | Thursday, April 5, 2018
Luttrell Says He Might Veto Contract And Budget Amendment Moratorium
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell says placing a moratorium on any contracts or budget amendments through the end of August is “counterproductive” and he is considering, among other reactions, a veto of the measure approved Monday, April 2, by the Shelby County Commission.
“It’s going to slow down the progress of government,” he said of the moratorium that lasts to Aug. 30, the end of the commission and mayor’s current four-year term of office. “Although we are exiting office in August we still have a role to play today. We have business that needs to be taken care of. It doesn’t need to be put off.”
Commissioner Van Turner proposed the moratorium to call attention to a pending five-year, $100 million contract for inmate medical services that does not include any provisions for minority business goals in its specifications.
The moratorium would be in effect for the first two months of the fiscal year that begins July 1. The terms allow for exceptions to the moratorium by majority vote of the commission. The winners of the August county general elections, which will bring in a new mayor and at least seven new county commissioners, take office Sept. 1.
“This is not making it a more difficult process. This is allowing us to take control of a process which we need to take control of,” Turner said during the commission’s debate Monday before the 10-3 vote.
“If we do not put our foot down here, if we allow these multi-million dollar, multi-year deals to move forward without MWBE (minority and women business enterprises) and LOSB (locally owned small business) specifications then what have we done in this last year or two?” he asked. “We’ve done nothing because here we are giving $20 million deals out over a five-year period which don’t have MWBE LOSB specifications.”
It was more than a year ago that the commission passed an ordinance that sets percentages for the awarding of county government contracts to MWBEs and LOSBs. The commission is in the process of fine-tuning the ordinance.
As to why the inmate medical services contract did not include MWBE and LOSB goals, county chief administrative officer Harvey Kennedy says that is because 77 percent of the contract involves labor – “labor that the current provider and the previous provider and the one before that all operated with the same business model, and they hired staff to take care of it,” Kennedy said Monday.
“We were more than agreeable to putting an LOSB goal on everything else that remains, whether it be medical supplies, X-ray services, any insurance,” Kennedy said. “Any of those things we were more than willing to go with that. I still think it’s a good plan.”
Commission chairwoman Heidi Shafer, however, said the administration has called for such goals in other contracts that included labor.
Turner says until the commission completes its minority business ordinance rewrite, the moratorium indicates the commission is serious about the basic premise of the ordinance.
“What are we telling the hard working business owners out here in Shelby County is, ‘We’re just up here playing around,’” he said of not enforcing the moratorium. “The whole point is to make it certain that the MWBE and LOSB specifications are in every deal that goes out, especially when we are talking about millions of dollars.”
The contract is the biggest dollar amount over five years in the current commission’s term of office.
Luttrell says the commission already votes on any contract of more than $50,000.
“We are looking at what our options are as far as reacting to that particular resolution. But certainly the way it stands now it is going to impede progress. … It’s going to require us, quite frankly, to lose some opportunities,” Luttrell said. “It’s really not necessary. They are going to be looking over it anyway.”
Asked if his options include the possibility of a veto, Luttrell said, “That’s always an option.”
Commissioner David Reaves, who voted against the moratorium, along with commissioners George Chism and Mark Billingsley, agreed.
“We’re just restating something that we already do. … We’re just telling them, ‘Don’t bring us anything that we don’t like,’” Reaves said. “I think this is redundant and repetitive. I don’t understand why we are doing this except for politics.”