As part of a continued conversation from the previous meeting, on April 20 Skagway’s Borough Assembly resumed its discussion of open contracts with Dr. Chad Gubala, the municipality’s engineering contractor.
Skagway Mayor Mark Schaefer had previously stated that the issue fueling the discussion was “about money, and the lack of accountability for where it is going.”
At the April 20 meeting, the assembly members slid through a series of motions before the discussion was finished.
Ultimately, the assembly closed all open contracts with Gubala, with the exception of Gubala’s contract for the Public Safety Facility.
During the discussion, Assembly Member Angela Grieser asked how the municipality would tackle the work Gubala has been handling for the municipality, as well as future work. Schaefer responded Skagway would put out a request for proposals and hire someone to do the work as the need arises.
Grieser said that, along the lines of fiscal responsibility, to hire someone with Gubala’s knowledge and skill averages around $200 per hour, plus reimbursement of travel costs and a per diem allowance.
Putting an engineer on staff with the municipality would cost Skagway $144,000 per year, according to Grieser.
“This is a PHD with three degrees, thirty years of experience, he [Gubala] knows more about the history of this town and all the contamination and the harbor and the port and the whole thing better than anyone,” Grieser said. “And he’s charging us $150 an hour.
“We have work that needs to be done. You want to go spend more because of a political or personal reason, I don’t know. His work has always been top notch.”
Assembly Member Tim Cochran said he was interested in closing the completed contracts, and having Gubala continue on and finish those projects that required more work. Grieser said she was fine with closing the completed contracts, but asked if the borough would have to go through the RFP process each and every time an issue arises.
“It is to our advantage to have someone that can respond to these situations immediately,” Grieser said.
Assembly Member Orion Hanson said the borough needs to clear up and clean up the situation with the consultant.
“And that’s where all this is coming from, that’s really all we need to discuss here at the table,” Hanson said.
The assembly passed a motion to terminate contracts with Gubala, with the exception of the Public Safety Facility contract. This motion passed 4-2, with Grieser and Assembly Member Jay Burnham against.
In an emailed statement, Gubala said that three of the five contracts under consideration by the assembly were completed some time ago, and have had no activity associated with them since those tasks were completed.
The contract on the Public Safety Facility, which remains active, is nearing completion “in good order,” Gubala said.
“With regards to my participation with Skagway, my affiliates and I remain quite open to assisting the municipality with its technical programming,” Gubala said in the email. “Our successes to date seem to have been beneficial to the MOS [municipality of Skagway] and were professionally fulfilling to execute.”
Following the motion to close the contracts, Hanson made a motion to direct staff to enter into negotiations for two new contracts with Gubala: one for an issue with contamination on private property, and another for phase two of the StreamWalk trail project.
This passed 5-1, with Assembly Member Spencer Morgan against.