Quincy leaders look at logging, busing

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By Robert Allen

Saving money and making money were on the minds of Quincy commissioners at the regular June 10 meeting.

Members of the commissioners discussed a continuation of their expired contract with the Whitfield Timber Company for the harvesting of trees in the city’s industrial park. The city and the company signed the initial agreement during October 2013. 

Mike Wade, interim city manager, said a combination of bad weather and equipment failure inhibited the company from completing the logging project on schedule. The new contract will extend the company’s access to the land and the timber until June 30. 

Wade estimated $10,000 of timber was still available on the land. He also said about $100,000 had already been harvested. 

Commissioner Derek Elias asked if there were any advantage to signing a new contract rather than simply continuing to operate under the terms set in place by the expired document. 

John Grant, city attorney, said, “I thought it was advantageous to reset an end-date.”

Elias asked if there would be any divergence between the expired contract and the proposed contract. 

Grant said only the date would change. 

Commissioner Andy Gay motioned to sign the new contract. Commissioner Daniel McMillan seconded the motion. It passed unanimously. 

The city also discussed securing a new telecommunications service. 

Early in the evening, Emmanuel Sapp spoke to the commissioners about the importance of forward-thinking investment and ownership. He argued future generations of Quincy residents would benefit from controlling their own telecommunications. 

Later in the evening, after a short discussion, Daniel McMillan — who labeled Netquincy a losing proposition during the May 27 meeting — motioned to issue a request for proposals (RFP), seeking an outside telecommunications provider. Commissioner Andy Gay seconded the motion. 

After Commissioner Keith Dowdell asked for specific assurance that the results from the RFP would return to the commissioners for consideration, the motion went to a vote and passed unanimously. 

The continuation of public transportation in the city and beyond remained a topic inspiring a certain degree of consternation. 

Dowdell said he didn’t think the city had a clear enough picture of its financial situation to make any decision on public transportation at the June 10 meeting. 

Gay said he agreed with Dowdell — but the September expiration date of the current contract might demand quicker action. In light of this timeline, he suggested considering alternative plans and contractors. 

Dowdell also expressed concern about an inadequate amount of feedback from the residents most affected by public transportation. 

“I think we need to stop making hasty decisions without getting input from the people that actually need the service,” said Dowdell. 

Previously, the city has split the expense with the county — each paying about $38,000. Most recent discussions have considered this factor. 

At the June 10 meeting, however, after a discussion pursued by Gay about considering a broader range of options and negotiating a more cost-effective arrangement, commissioners reached a consensus to possibly operate independently of the county. 

Accordingly, Micah Brown motioned to issue an RFP — with or without county participation — to find a company to provide public transportations services at a lower cost than the city currently pays. Gay seconded the motion. It passed unanimously. 

Robert Allen can be reached at 850-627-7649 or rallen@gadcotimes.com.