Denver, CO

Denver awards $9 million in vague on-call contracts

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) The Denver City Council approved nine more on-call contracts Monday for the Parks and Recreation Department despite transparency concerns.

On-call contracts allows cities to order work on as-needed basis without having to put the item out to bid. Such contracts generally are used when services urgently are needed, and the city is unable to perform work internally.

Nine firms won $1 million contracts Monday for “restoration, natural resource management and other technical services,” according to a memo provided by city staff to council. The contracts will span three years with an option to add a fourth year.

Councilmember Amanda Sawyer voted against the contracts, as she does with most on-call agreements. “Thank you for the work you’re doing to institute a reporting structure on the back end, I really, really appreciate it,” she said. “It’s not quite in place yet, so just to be consistent I’m going to vote no on these.”

DOTI implemented reforms

Sawyer wants the parks department to better explain the scope of work when using on-call contracts. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure recently implemented such reforms. Sawyer now votes yes for their on-call contracts. Sawyer was the only no vote Monday on the parks contracts.

"Denver Parks and Recreation is in the process of creating reports for on-call contracts that are similar to what other agencies have provided city council," said Yolanda Quesada, spokeswoman for the parks department. "We are currently verifying the data in order to ensure accuracy and completeness. Once this process is complete quarterly reports will be submitted to council."

Last year, a parks department employee apologized to the council for not having attained a higher level of reporting.

Companies awarded million-dollar on-call contracts

Companies awarded contracts include:

· Biohabitats

· Cedar Creek Associates Inc.

· Dudek

· ERO Resources Corp.

· GEI Consultants

· Habitat Management Inc.

· Natural Resource Services, Inc.

· Pinyon Environmental Inc.

· Smith Environmental and Engineering, Inc.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career at local newspapers. Today, I report on Denver and Aurora city halls for NewsBreak. Prior to joining NewsBreak, I worked several years as a health reporter and branded content writer in the healthcare space. I also worked many years as a news editor and city editor. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver.

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