The Hall County Board of Commissioners is hoping to cut costs on the Glades Reservoir project by finding a better price for engineering services.
The commissioners were split on the decision to put the services out for a competitive bid, with commissioners Craig Lutz, Scott Gibbs and Ashley Bell voting in favor of the move and Tom Oliver and Bill Powell opposed at the board's Thursday meeting.
The move came after concessions by other consultants.
At the board's Feb. 10 meeting, Glades Reservoir consultant Tommy Craig told commissioners he and his colleagues were willing to lower their fees by $5,000 a month.
After the commission courted other firms, Craig said he was willing to renegotiate the monthly fees.
"We understand the economy that we're in, we understand these are hard times and we are prepared to do our share to make our share of concessions," Craig said.
Commissioner Craig Lutz is in favor of taking the approach a step further with AECOM, the engineering company working on the reservoir.
"With Tommy Craig ... he is very specialized in what he does, it would have been difficult for us to do (a request for proposal). In the case of engineering, so many people could do it," Lutz said. "I think it would give us a much better idea for what the market price is today."
Lutz said it has been several years since the engineering work was put out for bid.
"Obviously the market has changed," Lutz said. "What I think it'll prove is people are willing to do the same work for less than they would three years ago."
AECOM will be invited to compete in the bid process, but Lutz said the county needs to consider all the qualifications and charges of multiple companies.
"Whether it be AECOM or someone else doing the work, I believe the taxpayers will end up benefitting in the long run," Lutz said.
Commissioner Billy Powell, who is against putting the work out for bid, said too much work has been done toward getting the reservoir permitted to switch companies now.
Powell said he would have preferred that the county negotiate with AECOM to lower its fees rather than looking at other firms to do the work.
"I don't want to jeopardize progress being made on the 404 permit," Powell said. "While I'm always looking for ways to cut costs and save money when it comes to services, I also know the importance of the Glades Farm project and wouldn't want to take any action that might jeopardize it."