MICHIGAN CITY – Despite Mayor-elect Duane Parry’s claim that it is illegal for the current Michigan City Board of Public Works and Safety to approve service contracts to which his administration will be bound once he takes office in January, the board approved three on Monday.
According to City Attorney Lapaich-Stalbrink, the 2014 court decision Parry cited was not an “apples-to-apples” comparison.
"You can enter into contracts,” she said, “but you've got to look at is, is it being done in good faith? Is it discretionary versus non-discretionary? The type of the contract and the duration of the contract."
Access La Porte County appeared before the Board of Works on Monday to request a three-year contract extension at a total cost of $150,000 for the continued broadcasting of city meetings and events on its public access television channel.
Feeling Not a Format Inc. also requested a one-year contract extension for continued weekly radio airtime and remote broadcasts of city events at a cost of $8,000 for the year.
And the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City requested a two-year contract extension worth $150,000 annually in November, at which time Parry objected, citing the court case.
"In all fairness, I know a longer-term duration limiting a new incoming administration may not in all good faith be fair to them,” Lapaich-Stalbrink said Monday.
“But when I'm looking at service contracts, you also have to look at is there going to be a lapse in service to the community, as well as are we acting in good faith in the duration? Can the new administration look at this differently – should they look at it differently?"
At her recommendation, the Board of Works approved one-year contracts for ALCO, Feeling Not a Format, and EDCMC.
When it came time to vote on the ALCO matter, the first service contract to appear on the meeting agenda, Board of Works President Steve Janus said, "As a representative of those citizens of Michigan City who have told me over the last eight years how much they enjoy watching the city government in action, it is with this thought I must move that we approve a one-year contract extension at this time, and the next two years to be held over for the next administration."
Lapaich-Stalbrink said Parry was unable to attend Monday’s meeting because of a prior commitment, but that he would attend the next Board of Works meeting on Dec. 16 to address any concerns he may have.
Parry’s administration will determine whether any of the contracts approved Monday will be continued beyond 2020.