Flaggs: Engineering costs getting out of hand for city of Vicksburg

Published 1:01 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The cost of engineering services for city projects in Vicksburg is getting out of hand, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said, and it’s time to take a look at what the city is getting for its money.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen hires outside engineering firms to do the design, prepare plans and specifications and conduct onsite inspections for construction projects inside the city.

Flaggs said at Monday’s board meeting he’s reviewed what the city has paid for project engineering during the fiscal year and he’s concerned the city may not be getting its money’s worth. He declined to discuss specifics, citing the board’s recent decision to seek requests for proposals for engineering services.

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The proposals are due in the city clerk’s office Friday and will be opened at the board’s May 25 meeting.

“I am absolutely, emphatically not happy with what we pay,” Flaggs said. “I don’t know if we need to outsource (engineering) or hire a private manager. It emphatically makes no sense to pay what we pay for engineering services. We paid on one project so much money just for the engineering design and I don’t know how many cost overruns and change orders as it relates to engineering services.”

Flaggs said he intends to reduce the costs of engineering services either through negotiations or by hiring a city project manager.

After the meeting, Flaggs said he was concerned about the project costs of construction and the associated cost of engineering.

“Because we don’t have a project manager, I think they are overpricing us because of the fact that what we have is somebody eyeballing the contract and that’s it. That’s why (we have) all these change orders; because no one’s going out and checking on the job,” he said.

Flaggs said he is considering eliminating the city’s public works department in favor of a project engineer to look at the costs associated with the individual projects.

“The change orders are coming because we’re not carefully evaluating the project; we look at the process and pass it on,” he said. “We want a project manager that comes in that can possibly help us design and look at cost estimates before we go to construction.”

Flaggs said the city’s seven-member committee to evaluate the RFPs held a pre-bid meeting Monday afternoon to discuss the city’s needs with potential companies seeking to send proposals.

“The costs are getting out of hand,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to me and I want to look at everything; we’ve got to slow things down and look at these costs and not rubber-stamp them.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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