May 21, 2024

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CIB will evaluate its contracts for professional services | Local News

3 min read

Terre Haute Mayor Brandon Sakbun, who also serves as treasurer of the Capital Improvement Board, recommended reviewing the CIB’s professional service contracts at its meeting this week.

Sakbun says his intent is to save taxpayers money.

As a result, the finance committee will review all CIB professional service contracts in May and provide recommendations in June on which firms to let go and which ones to keep. During that process, the CIB will begin to entertain bids from other firms to get competitive pricing.

“It’s very likely we’ll be making a change” on some of the contracts, the Mayor said.

“The finance committee, which meets before the entire board meets, we decided this month that we were going to get together and review all the professional service contracts that that board has assigned, and then assess if these are still the same firms that we want to work with,” he said in an interview Thursday.

“How I view it is, you want to have healthy competition amongst professional services, for example legal services, because we owe it to the taxpayers to get, one, the most bang for our buck, but two, to get the right experts in something like museum law, because we’re opening [the Larry Bird] museum,” he said.

“These aren’t usually fields that the everyday attorney is inclined to be well-versed in, so you so have to outsource at times.”

He added, “I just want to make sure that we are choosing the right firms to outsource any professional service to.”

In May of 2018, the Indiana General Assembly voted to grant Vigo County a 1% food and beverage tax, which the Vigo County Council approved later that year. Vigo County commissioners and former Mayor Duke Bennett supported the measure.

“The CIB, from its inception, was really charged to improve the city through the food and beverage tax, to do community transformation projects, like the convention center and hopefully, one day soon, the sports complex,” Sakbun said.

The food and beverage tax is not just taken from Vigo County residents — a traveler who pulls into town for a cup of coffee also contributes to its revenues, which are then used to help cover the professional services commissioned by the CIB.

The tax is 1% on items to be consumed on-premises or to-go meals and drinks.

Last year, the food and beverage tax brought in $3.256 million to the county, a 7% increase from 2022. In 2024, it’s anticipated to contribute $3.26 million.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Sakbun noted that it currently has a professional service contract with legal firm Kroger Gardis & Regas that itself could take up 1/12th of the food and beverage tax’s revenues.

“I always get frustrated when reviewing any professional service contract for any government body, because I want to make sure that you’re finding the right price to do these studies, to do these plans, to do these legal reviews, and that’s why you want to that healthy competition between firms to get the best price,” he said.

“If it were a cleaning service, you would still want to have multiple bids to ensure you’re getting the best price for the taxpayers,” Sakbun added.

Indiana Theatre signSakbun also recommended delaying financing for a standalone project for the Indiana Theatre that would remove and replace its historic sign, which would then be displayed at the Vigo County History Center.

That project would also include repairing the area of the roof where the sign stands, though the entire roof requires repairs.

He emphasized that he is thoroughly behind renovating the theater, which has become a favored project of Vigo County Commissioner Chris Switzer; he just wants an overview of the project.

“Commissioner Switzer has done a really good job leading the effort for the Indiana Theatre,” Sakbun said. “I applaud him and it’s been fun to support him in those efforts.”

But he added that he wanted to table proceeding on a standalone project “because next meeting we will be receiving a presentation from [the consulting firm] Studio Access on the Indiana Theatre and the study they did, generally on how much they think they’ll need.”

Studio Access is currently two-thirds of the way through its study, but its presentation will provide a general outline of the costs required by the refurbishment.

“I wanted to make sure that doing a standalone project fits in the overall plan for the theater,” Sakbun said.


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