City Council Debate
3:39 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Capital Improvements Expansion Goes Forward Despite Chan Opposition

The Capital Improvements Management Services Department (CIMS) could grow by eight project management positions under a plan devised by the city council.  

CIMS oversees capital improvements like streets, roads and bridges, and these eight positions would fit into the expansion plans of the convention center. But District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan blasted the city for not considering an alternative proposal that she says would reduce the size of governmental oversight and save money.

In an email to her constituents, Chan said: “When there is the potential for millions of tax-payer dollars to be saved, I think it is extremely arrogant on the part of City staff to not even consider the proposed alternative... I think that this is government bureaucracy at its worst.”

“Obviously with this down economy we wanted to make sure that we also do our part to achieve efficiency,” said Chan.

"Obviously with this down economy we wanted to make sure that we also do our part to achieve efficiency," said Chan.

Chan said that CIMS has continued to grow over 42 percent since 2007, with its funds increasing over 72 percent. She said that she believes CIMS doesn’t have the experience to oversee the management positions, and the city wants to give it more responsibility.

Differences of opinion

Chan told CIMS Director Mike Frisbie she would rather the private sector handle the job. Speaking at a lengthy B session Wednesday, he disagreed.

“Councilwoman, I think, obviously we have a different philosophy on how to execute it," said Frisbie. "Because the private sector cannot make the decisions that city employees need to: design decisions, operational decisions with the convention center...”

The eight positions would cost $5 million over the lifetime of the expansion project, and City Manager Sheryl Sculley said private sector employees would cost more. But Chan argues there is no promise the positions would later be cut.

“We, in this proposed budget, have made a professional recommendation on how to staff the project that includes extensive private sector involvement," said Sculley. "She disagrees, and a majority of the council supports the recommendation.”

Chan said she will continue seeking a better way to get the project done while also trying to save money.