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Council open to new consulting firm requests from mayor

City Council says it is open to allowing Mayor Derek Slaughter to request proposals from economic consulting firms working for Williamsport.

That’s what Council President Randall J. Allison said this week following the first council meeting of the year and of the new administration.

Slaughter has not commented on the matter and listened as the discussion occurred.

Allison noted how the city hired consulting companies because of their familiarity with the language of grant writing and their representatives’ connections to state and federal government persons, including local state lawmakers.

Others on council also said they wanted to allow Slaughter to drive these economic decisions.

“I am all for request for proposals,” said Councilman David Banks. “We need to get the best prices and have a means of making sure the city is getting the best price we can get.”

Banks’ statement received no dissent from Councilmen Jon Mackey, Adam Yoder and Vincent Pulizzi.

Representatives from Penn Strategies attended council Thursday to request the city to retain the economic development consulting firm.

The company has been paid $200,000 in a two-year contract that ends in a few days, said Jason Fitzgerald, company president.

Fitzgerald says the company is offering to work on a month-by-month basis, while any request for professional consulting services are developed, and providing the city a “15-day” out clause should it select another company.

Allison said council has an open ear to the mayor’s directives.

“It is normal for people to question why we need consultants,” Allison said. “We have to work within the context of the system various governments are set within and how grants are structured.”

Sid Furst, a Penn Strategies representative, said the business is in the midst of identifying grants for city parks, flood mitigation of Grafius Run and the levee recertification project.

During the time working for the city, the business never submitted an expense request and has no contract overages, Furst said.

“We welcome the opportunity for a fair, transparent, and accountable selection process,” Fitzgerald said. “We hope that all firms offering similar services are asked to do the same.”

Penn Strategies was successful getting a $1 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Projects grant for the levee.

It also assisted the city in obtaining a $200,000 Commonwealth Financing Authority grant for Memorial Park and a new accessible playground, and is seeking a $285,000 state Department of Environmental Protection grant for updating the recycling center and $1.1 million from the state Department of Environmental Protection, which has been put into a capital budget line item for Grafius Run flood mitigation, Furst said.

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