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Crypt clash prompts city purchasing review

Sault Ste. Marie City Council agreed Monday night to review its procurement policies and procedures, after concern was expressed by a local architect about sole-sourcing of a 144-crypt mausoleum expansion at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
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Sault Ste. Marie City Council agreed Monday night to review its procurement policies and procedures, after concern was expressed by a local architect about sole-sourcing of a 144-crypt mausoleum expansion at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

The review was requested by Ward 6 Councillor Ross Romano, who said he was prompted by the response to last month's appointment of EPOH Inc. as master consultant for the $834,000 project.

Ignoring a suggestion from Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Shoemaker that the job should be tendered, council agreed to pay EPOH $74,000 because that firm had, in the words of Roger Renonen, the city's cemeteries manager, "been the consultant....dating back to 1983 when the first mausoleum was built."

But when local architect David Ellis read that claim on SooToday, he contacted us, indicating he had co-authored the city's original mausoleum master plan in 1982 and had been the sole architect for all ten mausoleum expansions and subsequent master plans from 1982 to 2005. 

"My current senior draftsperson, Marie Hunter, was also the chief draftsperson for all mausoleum projects from 1987 onwards, including the 11th phase by EPOH.," Ellis said.

"I question the research done by city staff in this regard, since the architectural and technical expertise for well over 90 percent of all city-owned mausoleums currently resides within the firm david ELLIS architect inc."

The city's current procurement bylaw hasn't been updated since 2007.
 
"While good or bad, I think that is what led me to take a look at the procurement policy, noting that it hadn't been changed since 2007," Romano told city councillors on Monday, adding: "I believe city staff was already looking into making some recommendations to council."

Interestingly, when SooToday reported in December about the city's sole-sourcing of fire trucks from Smeal Fire Apparatus Co. of Snyder, Nebraska, two of the municipalities that Sault Fire Services claimed sole-sourced with Smeal contacted us to say they had no such arrangement.

The new review committee will be comprised of Councillor Romano, Ward 1 Councillor Paul Christian, Commissioner of Finance/Treasurer Shelley Schell, Purchasing Manager Tim Gowans and other "appropriate" city administrators.

The committee's mandate is to "review procurement policies and procedures, research current and best practices and provide a report to city council for consideration and approval of any potential changes or amendments to the policy in accordance with those current and best practices."

Outgoing Chief Administrative Officer Joe Fratesi remarked on Monday that every city department is involved in procurement.
 
"The size of that committee, really, is going to need to be large enough to involve all of those that on a regular basis have dealings with that type of procurement," the CAO said. "I just want to forewarn you that you ought include all the departments because they all have a little twist or turn in how they do business and need to be heard."

Earlier SooToday coverage related to this story:

Why doesn't the Sault tender fire trucks?

City sole-sources mausoleum expansion contract

 
 


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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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