By Joe Earle

More than four years after hiring CH2M HILL to provide most city services in Sandy Springs, city officials are working on ways to decide what comes next.
City Council members plan to hold several public hearings in coming weeks to find out what residents think of the city’s service contract with the Colorado-based engineering company, Dist. 5 City Councilman Tibby DeJulio said. The hearings will be part of the city’s process in drawing up a new “request for proposal” seeking bidders for the next city services contract. The current contract with CH2M HILL expires in 2011.
“The whole idea is, how do we make this as transparent and as efficient as possible?” said DeJulio, a member of a council subcommittee planning preparation of the request for proposal, or RFP. Dist. 4 Councilwoman Ashley Jenkins and Dist. 1 Councilman John Paulson also are members of the subcommittee.
CH2M HILL, a Colorado-based engineering company, is contracted to provide Sandy Springs services through Dec. 31, 2011, DeJulio said. The company was hired when the city was created, after planning for the new city was done by a special committee appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
CH2M HILL now employs 135 people in its Sandy Springs operation and provides most city services other than police, fire protection and 911, a city spokeswoman said. The city pays CH2M HILL $26.1 million a year, the spokeswoman said.

Sandy Springs City Councilman Tibby DeJulio

The Sandy Springs contract was the first of its kind, city officials said, so city officials have no blueprint to follow in determining what comes next.
“This is all new,” DeJulio said. “The last time we went out on an RFP for city services, the city didn’t exist yet.”
The council will hold as many public hearings as will be needed to allow Sandy Springs residents to express their opinions on CH2M HILL’s operations and the city’s contract, DeJulio said.
“Our initial plan is two public hearings, but we’ll see how many people come out,” he said. “We add whatever we need so people can have their voices heard.”
After the public hearings are complete, the subcommittee plans a series of private meetings with other members of the council, DeJulio said during the council’s Feb. 2 meeting. During those meetings, council members will discuss how they view the contract and present ideas for ways it should be changed.
Council members, he said, “are the ones that are the closest to the contract …. (who) work with the contract.”
Those meetings will be private, he said, because council members might not want to make some of their complaints public.
DeJulio said the discussions could be complete as early as the end of April and a new request for proposals could be drawn up by the end of summer. “Then it will go out to the street,” he said The new RFP likely will include provisions not included in the first one, such as a request for information on how a new contractor would handle the transition from one company to another.
“This RFP will be much more specific in what we need and how we’d like it handled,” DeJulio said. “I have a sense it’s going to be an extremely detailed document.”