The Kansas City Council on Thursday approved a $12 million no-bid contract for an out-of-town consulting firm to address the water department’s woeful customer service.
The vote was 10-3 in favor of the two-year contract with Chicago-based West Monroe Partners. Council members John Sharp, Jermaine Reed and Melba Curls voted against the deal, arguing that awarding such a costly contract without seeking bids set a bad precedent and didn’t ensure the best price.
“Having competition never hurts,” Sharp said, adding that there might have been numerous potential competitors for this type of work, including local firms.
But supporters said they were persuaded by the water department’s arguments that the company has unique skills to improve the department’s information technology, telephone system, call center training, billing and meter reading, which all have been targets of consumer complaints.
“This firm pulls together all the various parts and pieces … from meter to cash,” water services director Terry Leeds said after the vote.
Supporters also said the contract involves local minority-owned and women-owned firms as subcontractors.
Mayor Sly James said it shouldn’t open the floodgates to more no-bid contracts.
“We haven’t run willy-nilly giving out sole-source contracts,” James said.