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Using Consultants Is A Better Option Than Adding Full-Time City Staff

Mayor Eddie Sundquist and his leadership team have quietly made a good decision to use consultants rather than full-time paid city staff for three positions included in Jamestown’s American Rescue Plan funding.

It’s a smart decision by Sundquist and Ryan Thompson, city comptroller, that the City Council’s Finance Committee approves of — at least in theory. Using consultants is much cleaner than hiring someone on as city staff. When the consultant finishes the assigned work, the consultant knows they will be finding another job. There are no messy entanglements that come with working in City Hall and no pleas to keep the position because they have taken on other duties unrelated to their American Rescue Plan work.

Using consultants also makes sense financially. The city wouldn’t be responsible for health and retirement benefits, just wages. That means more of the American Rescue Plan money could go toward projects that benefit city residents.

We agree with Sundquist and Thompson that one of the positions — a project manager to handle stimulus plan accounting and reporting — is needed. The city’s stimulus plan is almost as large as the city’s annual budget, and the federal government doesn’t give that much money without strings attached. Having those reporting duties handled by someone who understands federal accounting and reporting makes sense for the city in the long run.

Our opinion hasn’t changed on the other two positions. Contracting for an events coordinator is a better idea than adding the position to city staff, though one wonders if one of the city’s partners in the community could handle the assignment without the city’s help. A communications person to send out news releases about the wonderful uses of the city’s stimulus funding is as necessary as an eskimo buying ice.

Sundquist and Thompson are on the right path with the move toward consultants. Any decision that results in more stimulus-related benefit for city residents is a good one.

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