Water department seeks $12 million to improve customer service - KCTV5

Water department seeks $12 million to improve customer service

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KC Water Services gave its pitch in front of the full city council Thursday for a $12 million no-bid contract for one firm to lead customer service improvements. It drew mixed reaction.

"Is this the only firm that can provide that technology?" asked 2nd District Councilman Ed Ford.

"No," replied Water Services Director Terry Leeds.

Leeds answered the $12 million question that yes, there are other firms KC Water Services could hire to improve customer service.

"We didn't find that elsewhere. Not to say there isn't any company out there," Leeds said.

The city allows contracts not to be bid if a company can show it's a unique service.

"I have great difficulty in supporting a sole source contract," said 6th District Councilman John Sharp.

Sharp said he doesn't like how Kansas City's water department failed to put the contract out for public bid.

"If this is unique, anything is. I think it opens Pandora's box," he said.

Mayor pro tem Cindy Circo disagreed that asking for bids would delay helping customers.

"We are in a crisis mode and we're managing the crisis to get to a functioning mode," she said.

KC Water Services said the proposed $12 million contract would be spread out over two years to a Chicago firm with a portion going to local contractors.

Kansas City, MO, has already paid the out-of-state firm more than $320,000 to do research.

KCTV5 obtained the report that criticized the water department, claiming weak management, limited critical thinking, poor attitudes and siloed organization.

"Yes, I think historically those are some of the issues our department's dealt with," Leeds said.

No vote was made by the city council on the $12 million contract this week. Members will continue to debate and are expected to vote on it next week.

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