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Clarkston to disavow contracts signed by former city manager, plans to settle with vendors

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Clarkston to disavow contracts signed by former city manager, plans to settle with vendors

Former Clarkston City Manager Shawanna Qawiy (far right) listens to citizen comments during the town hall at the Clarkston Community Center on Thursday, July 27, 2023. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Clarkston, GA — The city of Clarkston plans to disavow three contracts entered into by former city manager Shawanna Qawiy. The contracts are with Human Resources Dimensions, Inc., Pivot Path, and Prologic ITS LLC.

Clarkston voted earlier this month to part ways with Qawiy after weeks of controversy surrounding officers leaving the city’s police department.

At the city council work session Aug. 29, City Attorney Stephen Quinn said that the contracts were invalid because they were not approved by the city council, the staff did not follow the required bidding process, and they were not reviewed or approved by Quinn as city attorney. However, two of the companies will be paid for work that has already been completed.

Human Resources Dimensions completed a cultural assessment for a contracted amount of $11,000. Acting City Manager Dan Defnall described the report as negative but useful. He added that the city may want more HR services based on the assessment, but any contract for that will be subject to the normal bidding process.

Pivot Path had a contract for communication services from July 1 through Dec. 31 in the amount of $59,000 and has invoiced the city $11,007.50 for work completed through the end of July.

The third company, Prologic, presented a quote for $19,423.24, signed by the former city manager, but no purchase order was issued and no products or services have been received. 

Quinn said that he would negotiate a settlement with each of the three companies that releases the city from the contracts and pays appropriately for completed work.

“For the work that has been completed, we might not legally be obligated to pay, but it’s the right thing to do to pay,” Quinn said. The companies will be free to bid on future work for the city. 

In other business, the council also discussed a contract with Integrated Science & Engineering, Inc. to conduct a Clarkston stormwater utility digest review. The total, including aerial imagery, will be $42,760.

Defnall said that the work needs to be done by the end of the year because the city must be prepared to report to DeKalb County next April. 

The city also discussed approving an agreement with CSX Transportation, Inc. for the realignment of Northern Avenue to Mell Avenue at Church Street for the amount of $20,570.    

Council member Jamie Carroll asked if CSX pays the city for the services of mowing their right of way. 

“We got $5,000 out of them last year,” Defnall said.

Carroll said that the services are worth more than that.

“Can we get a setback?” Carroll asked.

“No,” said City Engineer Larry Kaiser.

“You and I will never in our lifetimes get a concession out of CSX,” Kaiser said.

Quinn agreed, saying that he had tried to negotiate with CSX before.

“It was an absolute dead end, with a punch in the face. They will not write that check,” Quinn said.

The disavowal of the improper contracts and approval of the contracts with ISE and CSX will be on the consent agenda at the city council’s regular meeting Sept. 5, along with approval of an alcohol license to sell beer and wine for M Mart (formerly Thrifttown) at 926 Montreal Rd. 

— The city will also allocate another $120,000 of American Rescue Plan Act to its weatherization program. Residents can apply for up to $6,000 per household. 

Defnall said that the money for the previous program has been used up, and council members described it as a great success.

Mayor Beverly Burks said that it was time to renew the program.

“Winter is coming,” Burks said.

Other items will be discussed further at the regular council meeting.

— The city is being asked to consent to the Dekalb County Housing Authority exercising its powers to finance a proposed multifamily housing project at 1086 Montreal Road.

Quinn said that if the city consents, the property will be untaxable for 30 years. Quinn added that a request for a payment in lieu of taxes was cordially received, and he is currently waiting to hear back from the DHA.

“We need a policy for this,” Burks said.

— The council will also discuss a final project list for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) II.  Categories include roads, streets, and bridges, recreational and cultural facilities, public buildings, and public safety. Proposed projects include greenways and trails, new sidewalks, replacement of the Norman Rd. dam, and a needs assessment for a new city hall.

Burks proposed setting aside $250,000 in ARPA funds for the city’s Downtown Development Authority, but the city’s new economic development director, Adleasia Cameron, asked the council to hold off for now as she continues to pursue support from the DeKalb Development Authority and other sources.

“I like what you’re planning, but please hold off because that’s exactly what I was hired to do.  Let’s use the resources that we have. The county is eager to give us money,” Cameron said.

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