BAKER — Three contracts up for renewal drew attention Thursday from the City Council.
The contracts for city engineer, museum director and information technology consultant were on the agenda for renewal at Tuesday night’s meeting, but the council delayed action to get more information in Thursday’s “work session.”
Former City Council Clerk Jean Byers has a $1,500-per-month contract as the city’s coordinator of programs, projects and events, whose duties also include museum director.
Byers also is a Zachary city employee, serving as council clerk and overseeing museum activities.
Councilman Pete Heine, a former mayor, renewed his call for a public relations employee or consultant to highlight positive news about Baker.
“Zachary is our competitor. You’re working for our competitor, and you’re working for us,” Heine said, referring to economic development efforts.
Byers said Zachary has an active Chamber of Commerce and has “more money to throw on the table” for marketing.
“If something doesn’t work for us, but works for Zachary, why are we competitors?” she asked.
Zachary recently launched a coordinated marketing plan, called Smart, for residential and business development, a joint effort of the city, school system, chamber and Lane Regional Medical Center.
Councilman Robert Young asked Byers if she had a “solution or concern” about getting schools more involved in museum activities.
Byers said school visits have dropped off at the museum, primarily because of field trip transportation costs.
The school system also should “make a statement” and work to rehabilitate the old auditorium at Baker High School, designed by renowned Baton Rouge architect A. Hays Town, Byers said.
“It is a treasure in trouble,” Byers said, adding the Foundation for Historical Louisiana has expressed interest in helping get the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Kevin Gravois, of Professional Engineering Consultants Inc., told council members his firm only bills the city for engineering services through a fee schedule tied to a project’s construction cost.
The firm also works with the city’s grant writer to look for grants to finance needed projects.
Councilwoman Joyce Burges asked if the city’s website could include information specific to her district, and Mayor Harold Rideau replied it can as long as the content is routed to his secretary, Ginger Vann.
“I’m responsible for what goes on there,” Rideau said.
The council also delayed naming an official journal Tuesday.
Rideau said the city has no other option than to name The Advocate because Baker has no eligible newspaper, but Thursday’s meeting format precluded a vote.