Chattanooga City Council declines to vote on temporary staffing agreement

Chattanooga City Council declines to vote on temporary staffing agreement

October 17th, 2017 by Paul Leach in Breaking News

The Chattanooga City Council discusses agenda items for its Oct. 17 voting session.

Photo by Paul Leach /Times Free Press.

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UPDATE: The Chattanooga City Council declines to vote on temporary staffing agreement with MSi Workforce Solutions. 

Councilman Chip Henderson motioned to approve the item "for the purpose of discussion."

The item failed for lack of a second motion. 

ORIGINAL STORY: The Chattanooga City Council reconsiders this evening whether to include MSi Workforce Solutions in a $1.8 million blanket contract agreement to provide temporary staffing needs for the city.

Personal bankruptcies by company principals J. Marty and Donna Christian Lowe — a consideration which does not figure into city vetting for vendor agreements — has emerged as a concern for some council members.

Three weeks ago, the council voted 7-2 to remove MSi from a dual blanket contract, which also included Outsource Staffing. The decision to remove occurred after members Demetrus Coonrod and Anthony Byrd raised concerns about the company.

At the time, personal bankruptcies were not a part of council discussions, which revolved around the company's time in business and the actual number of employees it could provide.

Last week, Councilman Chip Henderson said he and other council members had received an email from one of his constituents who "had raised several issues" concerning the finances of one of the company principals. The council's conversation with city officials zeroed in on whether Chattanooga's Department of Purchasing applied the same vetting rules to MSi as it does to any other vendor.

Bonnie Woodward, the city's purchasing director, told council members the city does not request personal bankruptcy information as part of its vetting process, but instead focuses "specifically" on the financial standing of the legal entities which submit bids or proposals.

Maura Sullivan, the city's chief operating officer, backed the decision to recommend MSi and the purchasing department's vetting standards.

"I want to reiterate our documents are formulated and set forth by rules set up in the state purchasing code," Sullivan said. "Our documents are not much different than you'll see anywhere else in any other city across the state."

In other business, the council considers a 15-year tax break for Alco Woodlawn Partners to renovate the Bayberry Apartments — formerly known as the Woodlawn and Windsor Apartments — in East Chattanooga.

The revamp of the apartments, building in the early 1970s, represents a $12.2 million investment, according to the developer's application for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement. The company expects to spend $5.9 million in construction costs.

The developer cites improved security and residential services for the apartment dwellers as key benefits enabled by the proposed tax break.

The tax break would only apply to property value increases due to the renovations, not the existing property value.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or Follow him on Twitter @pleach_tfp.

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