Queen Creek council approves $44,500 engineering contract for library parking lot expansion

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The town of Queen Creek is moving ahead with plans to expand the parking lot at the Queen Creek Branch Library, 21802 S. Ellsworth Road. The Queen Creek Town Council at its June 3 regular meeting approved by a 6-1 vote a contract not to exceed $44,500 with Phoenix-based Dibble Engineering to design the project.

Voting in favor of the contract were Mayor Gail Barney, Vice Mayor Julia Wheatley and council members Craig Barnes, Robyn Benning, Jeff Brown and Dawn Oliphant.

Voting against the contract was Councilwoman Emilena Turley, who had asked the item be removed from the consent calendar and be voted on separately, according to a video of the meeting.

Consent calendar items are considered to be routine and are enacted by one motion and one vote, according to the meeting agenda.

The video can be viewed on the town’s website by clicking on the “Town Hall” drop down menu and then on “Watch Town Council Meetings.”

“I don’t see expanding the parking lot as a necessity at this time,” Ms. Turley said during a phone interview June 4. “We need to expand the library parking lot eventually, but I would prefer to pay cash for it next year instead of borrowing for it this year.”

Councilman Benning said the expenditure was approved as part of the 2014-15 budget and was not connected to the next fiscal year’s budget, according to the video.

Councilwoman Turley then asked Town Attorney Fredda Bisman if the money could be carried forward to the next fiscal year if the council were to vote down the engineering contract. Ms. Bisman said it could, according to the video.

The approved contract with Dibble Engineering calls for the firm to provide engineering and project management services required to prepare the final design plans, specifications and opinions of probable construction cost to expand the library parking lot, which is on the south side of the library and north of Ocotillo Road.

Improvements include expanding the parking lot, lighting, landscaping, reconfiguring the existing on-site retention basin to accommodate the additional parking and driveway shift along Ocotillo Road, and matching into the Ocotillo Road improvements currently under design by Dibble, according to the contract in the council packet.

Councilwoman Turley also asked for another item — an amendment to Town Manager John Kross’s employment agreement — be removed from the consent calendar.

The amendment, according to the council packet, would increase the compensation paid to the manager if he is terminated without cause, from six months base salary to nine months base salary.

The amendment does not make any other changes to the employment agreement, which remains in full force and effect.

The increase was requested by Mr. Kross, Councilwoman Turley said during a phone interview June 4.

Mr. Kross’s annual salary is $189,045, Jen Snyder, a member of the town’s public information department, said in an e-mail response to questions.

If approved, it would be the third amendment to the employment agreement since it was entered into in February 2011, according to the council packet.

It was amended in 2013 to provide the manager with a telephone stipend and in 2014 to increase the compensation and related benefits provided to him.

The packet did not specify the amount of the phone stipend or the amount of the compensation and benefits increase.

Councilwoman Turley said on the video that she opposed increasing the amount of compensation by three months.

“It’s not our money, it’s the public’s money,” she said on the video. “I don’t know anyone who gets nine months severance.”

The council voted 6-1 to approve the amendment. Councilwoman Turley cast the dissenting vote.
Town council meetings are generally held on the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Queen Creek Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road.

The work session starts at 5:30 p.m. It is followed by the regular session starting at 7 p.m.

To view meeting agendas, minutes and videos, visit the town’s website.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

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