The Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District today approved an agreement that would renew their legal counsel’s contract on a month-by-month basis. The action comes as the state auditor is questioning the agency’s practice of awarding no-bid contracts for professional services.
The state audit is expected by the end of the year. Until then, the MSD board voted to renew counsel Larry Zielke’s contract on a month-by-month basis, rather than the yearly contract which was previously standard.
MSD Board Chairman Arnold Celentano says while most of MSD’s contracts are up for bids, professional services are handled differently.
“You don’t go out for proposals, you look at the background and the capabilities of the professional firm,” he said.
Zielke’s contract in particular has come under fire amid allegations of conflict-of-interest and artificially high rates. Celetano says he thinks the audit might suggest the agency bid out for legal and other professional services as well, but:
“If it doesn’t save us money I don’t think we’ll do it,” he said.
Zielke’s month-by-month contract was approved, despite board member Tom Austin’s suggestion that the MSD accept requests for proposals—or RFP’s—sooner, rather than later.
“I think if we’re going to be transparent to the community that professional services contracts, we ought to ask for an RFP,” he said. “For those, like other contracts that we bid.”
The state audit won’t have the force of law. Instead, it will make recommendations and the MSD will have sixty days to give a written response .