Aldermen refuse to offer one-year contract, OK five-year contract with Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic

Michelle Duncan

Dr. Michelle Duncan with the Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic speaks to aldermen during Monday night's Quincy City Council meeting at the Quincy Regional Training Center. | David Adam

QUINCY — The Quincy City Council approved a five-year contract for the Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic for $1,040,250 during Monday night’s meeting at the Quincy Regional Training Center after the issue had been tabled for one week.

The WIVC will provide essential care, medical attention and the opportunity for adoption to lost, stray and abandoned animals. It has worked with the city in that capacity for the past eight years.

Ronna Robertson, president of Homeward Bound Waggin and chair of the Animal Control Commission, told aldermen at last week’s meeting that she learned the animal shelter contract was on the June 17 agenda hours before the meeting. She said Homeward Bound Waggin, an animal shelter and rescue based in Quincy, had been watching for notifications for a RFQ (request for quote to perform a service).

“The fact that we are a registered vendor makes me wonder if there is somewhere, somehow in the process, there’s a break,” Robertson said last week. “We should have the opportunity to look at lower-cost options that are available within the city of Quincy.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Dr. Michelle Duncan told aldermen the contract was important to the clinic.

“We’ve built what we feel is a great working relationship with the animal wardens and the city police officers, and we’d like to continue this contract,” she said. “We feel that we have a sort of unmatched unique opportunity in housing the shelter at a vet clinic. No, it’s not necessarily common, but we feel like the city of Quincy and the citizens of Quincy should be thankful for that. As a busy veterinary clinic, we are still dedicated to serving this community.

“Quincy has a strong animal welfare community. We have other adoption facilities in Quincy, and we are thankful for them. They help us out, and we don’t intend to infringe on any of their opportunities. Our goal is public safety, animal welfare and keeping the citizens of Quincy safe.”

Alderman Mike Rein (R-5), who asked last week to table the vote, offered an amendment to approve a one-year contract with the clinic. Adam Yates, chief of the Quincy Police Department, recommended approval of the five-year contract.

“I feel that (the contract) can be vetted and the scope of work can be analyzed in terms of reducing the cost,” Rein said. “The cost increase was quite substantial, and I was told that looking at cost containment was not previously considered.”

Corporation Counsel Lonnie Dunn speaks to Mike Rein during Monday’s Quincy City Council meeting at the Quincy Regional Training Center. At left is Quincy Mayor Mike Troup. | David Adam

Quincy Mayor Mike Troup said a legal review last week determined “everything was handled (properly), according to our code and process.” He questioned if the five-year contract could be shortened to one year by the aldermen. Corporation Counsel Lonnie Dunn said he wouldn’t recommend it.

“So you’re saying the only alternative, if you don’t want to spend this money, is to vote it down?” Rein said. “Well, that’s a terrible option.”

“From a legal standpoint, it’s possible that since the specifications were previously publicized, that’s what everybody submitted (their bid) on,” Dunn replied. “If you were to change the rules now, so to speak, you just might be opening yourself up.”

 “The (animal control) commission was not involved this time, and they were previously,” Rein said. “They weren’t consulted, and that’s inexcusable.”

Mike Farha (R-4) said he believed nothing was done wrong in the process.

“When you go through a request for quotes, and there’s a price, you can’t go back and say, ‘Oh, no, we don’t want to do that,’” Farha said. “That gets into a whole host of issues.”

Aldermen rejected Rein’s amendment to the resolution, with Rein and Tony Sassen (R-4) voting no and Dave Bauer (D-2) and Ken Hultz (R-3) abstaining. As the vote was being tallied, Rein turned to the aldermen to his left — Richie Reis (D-6), Jake Reed (R-6), Ben Uzelac (D-7) and Jack Holtschlag (D-7) — and said, “Lonnie scared you?”

The original resolution was adopted by a 10-2 vote, with Bauer abstaining (Eric Entrup was absent). Rein and Jeff Bergman (R-2) voted no.

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