SC Council removes red tape

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2008


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – The selection of engineers and architects for St. Charles Parish projects exceeding $20,000 will no longer be subject to a parish panel that ranks qualifications.

The St. Charles Council voted 6-2 Monday in favor of eliminating the parish’s “quality-based” selection process for choosing engineers, saying that the panel hindered movement on important construction jobs.

The amendment to the St. Charles Code of Ordinances now gives Parish President V. J. St. Pierre the freedom to select engineers for parish projects with fees over $20,000, as long as he has the approval of the council. The old system put the selection responsibility in the hands of representatives of area universities appointed to a five-member panel that ranked engineering firms on their qualifications.

At Monday’s meeting, St. Pierre asked that the council trust his judgment in selecting adequate firms to do work in the parish, saying that there is always the opportunity to revive the old system. St. Pierre said he would be open to revisiting the need for the “QBS” system after roughly six months.

St. Charles Public Information Officer Renee Allemand explained that the QBS system was created in 1993 under the leadership of Parish President Chris Tregre as a way of taking politics out of the selection of architects and engineers. She said it set up a panel of appointees from area colleges, along with the parish department head supervising a given project. The panel used a series of factors to rank the firms jockeying for a parish job based on what the firm’s qualifications are. The panel then submitted recommendations to parish administrators, who negotiated terms of the contract.

Former Parish President Albert Laque continued to implement the system, but it often functioned inefficiently because the panel rarely had a quorum. The same group of engineers was doing most of the parish engineering work.

Allemand said council members Terry Authement, Wendy Benedetto, Larry Cochran, Marcus Lambert, Carolyn Schexnaydre and Shelley Tastet voted in favor of getting rid of the system. She said council members Paul Hogan and Dennis Nuss cast their votes against the measure.