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Cheyenne's Municipal Building. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – The issue of what city contracts should require Cheyenne City Council approval has been a contentious topic of discussion for weeks within the governing body. After debating the ordinance multiple times, the council ultimately postponed the decision on Oct. 28 until Tuesday’s meeting.

As of right now, city contracts that fall below $35,000 can be approved by the mayor, and contracts above that amount must be approved by council. Some council members speculated that the reason for the proposed ordinance change to lower the amount was due to a mistrust between the mayor and the council.

The original ordinance would have lowered that threshold to $25,000, a move City Treasurer Robin Lockman said would significantly increase the workload of Purchasing Manager TJ Barttelbort. For each contract, he would have to create an agenda item for the council.

After being reworked a number of times, the final ordinance that will go before the council Tuesday would lower the threshold to $25,000 only for professional service agreements.

Before the change, 26 contracts in the past year fell in between those amounts, which is a number that would’ve added an additional month of work for Barttelbort. The number of professional service agreements that year was two, and the year before had seven.

“I do completely support the proposed amendment that leaves contracts related to purchase orders at $35,000, with that special provision that requires contracts of the professional service nature to come before the governing body at $25,000 or higher,” Barttelbort said at the Finance Committee meeting Monday.

Finance Committee Chairman Jeff White said he was initially worried about the effect the ordinance would have on staff’s workload.

“I’m happy to see that staff is agreeable to the amendment, as well,” White said.

The Finance Committee adopted the amendment that specified the change would only apply to professional service agreements and recommended the ordinance be approved by council.

Council President Rocky Case was one of the ordinance’s original sponsors.

The change was initially brought forward after council members voted against a contract that came before them in the vouchers. The contract had already been signed, so the city was legally obligated to pay for it, regardless of what the council voted. Case also pointed to another contract that came through the vouchers at $34,999, which he said could have been a way to circumvent the council.

Case said the goal was never to make work harder for city staff, and that the compromise gives council a little more control over the city’s finances. He said the previous contracts that caused concern were those professional service agreements.

“I think it’s a good compromise,” Case said. “But there’s more work we’re doing to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately.”

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter @MargaretMAustin.

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