February 15, 2001

Consultant Fees Hit $2 Million

By Jon A. Brake

The City of Manhattan has spent $2,360,509 on consultants in the past four years. Everything from preparing a
Water and Wastewater Facilities Plan ($354,379) to the Linear Trail Master Plan ($15,000). Items that should be
simple projects for City staff have become expensive reports done by out of town specialist.

In the past, consultants were asked to do a job and they provided the plan or study on their own findings. Now
consultants are told in which direction the City Commission wants the study to go.

This Commission votes to hire a consultant and then one of them will head a "steering committee" to direct the

Last week at the City Commission meeting discussion on the Roundabout on North Manhattan City
Commissioner Carol Peak stated: "When you are trying to change a city..." That tells you what has been going

This Commission with Bruce Sneak, Ed Klimek, Roger Reitz, McCulloh and Peak have worked to change the
direction of the City. It is a very expensive change and it is going in the wrong direction.

In July of 2000 the City paid $70,000 to have a consultant "review the existing housing situation and determine
the housing demand potential in Manhattan."

Here is what the consultant said about the direction: "The Steering Committee set the "scope of services" for
the "Housing Manhattan: Planning for the Future Housing Study." That Steering Committee was headed by
Mayor Karen McCulloh.

Tuesday night the Commission spent four and a half hours on the Rental Housing Inspection Committee Report.
The Committee had been appointed because one line in the Housing Report said that the City needed a Housing
Inspection Program. The Committee met eight times and took their recommendations to the City Commission.

The Mandatory Rental-Inspection Program would cost about $112,000. The Inspection Program would look for
Code violations in all rental units. Cost of the inspections would be paid by the landlords but would then be passed
on in higher rent.

Tuesday night landlords put up a good fight. They pointed out that the Committee had never determined if such a
program was needed. They also pointed out that the City has two inspection programs now. KSU, Fort Riley and
HUD also can inspect rental units.

Wednesday the Free Press talked to the company that put together the housing report. The whole Mandatory
Rental-Inspection Program has been based on a line in the Housing Study that said the "City needs a Rental
Inspection Program."

But according to the company they meant a program that would look at a rental unit before it was rented and
again after the renter moved out. "This way the renter and the landlord would have a record of how the unit
looked before and after."

For the past four months the Special Rental Housing Inspection Committee was been going in the direction the
Commissioner wanted, not what the consultant wanted the City to do.