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City will stick with engineering firm

For more than a decade, Rosemount has contracted with WSB Engineering for engineering services.

The city pays a $40,000 retainer fee for Andy Brotzler to serve as the city engineer and the director of public works. Additionally, the city uses the company for additional engineering services. In 2011 the city spent $1.2 million with the company.

As the current contract is set to expire at the end of the year, the city council found it a prudent time to review the relationship during a recent work session and see if a different arrangement might serve the city better.

City administrator Dwight Johnson said from his view the arrangement has worked out well for the city because the company has a lot of resources at its disposal. Johnson spoke highly of the work Brotzler has done and said WSB is reasonably priced. He recommended the council stick with the arrangement.

In the staff memo, Johnson said hiring an engineer to the staff would cost the city at least $140,000 a year including out of pocket benefit cost. The city would likely still have to have some work done by an outside firm. Considering Brotzler's retainer fee is $40,000 that would cost the city an additional $100,000.

WSB representative Bret Weiss touted the company's reputation and said the city wouldn't find the same quality of services for the same price anywhere else.

While council members were generally complimentary of Brotzler's work, mayor Bill Droste expressed concern that there is not enough oversight and transparency in the department. Because Brotzler is a city department head and an employee of WSB, he is in the position of recommending studies that can benefit the company. Droste said the city needs to protect itself and urged staff to make efforts to bring more transparency to make sure city funds are being used prudently.

Johnson said city staff will work to make sure the reasons for studies and other activities are well documented. He also wrote in the staff memo that a way to address the concerns is to get a second opinion.

"We can do a better job that transparency is clear," said Johnson.

Council member Jeff Weisensel critiqued Brotzler, saying he needs to be more innovative, but then proposed the city enter into a five-year contract with WSB.

A contract will come back to the council for final approval before the end of the year.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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