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Council to seek conference center "facilitator'

Council to seek conference center "facilitator'

April 2nd, 2013 in News

The Jefferson City Council will be seeking a facilitator to help advise them during the evaluation phase of the conference center selection.

Council members approved a motion to put out a request for proposals, or RFP, at the Monday council meeting by a vote of 9-1. Third Ward Councilman Bryan Pope cast the sole opposing vote.

According to the RFP, the city will seek a facilitator to review the conference center proposals; facilitate staff evaluations, public evaluations, and evaluations by experts in the field and invited stakeholders; provide presentation of proposals; recommend methods of evaluation for the council; and facilitate the council to a final decision.

At a work session last week, the council approved a tentative timeline for the conference center selection process that would have the city making a final decision by July 1. The facilitator would work with the city from June 3 through July 1.

Second Ward Councilman Rick Mihalevich said though the facilitator would make a recommendation to assist the council in making a final decision, that decision ultimately rests with the council.

"Ultimately, we vote on our own conscience," Mihalevich said. "We have no obligation to accept any proposal."

In late February, the City Council voted to make public the names of developers who have submitted proposals for a conference center and the sites they selected.

Ehrhardt Hospitality Group, based in Hannibal, has proposed the facility at the West McCarty Street site; Drury Development Company, based in St. Louis, submitted a proposal for the West McCarty Street site, the old Missouri State Penitentiary site or any other site that meets city requirements; and Farmer Holding Company, a local developer, has proposed the facility at the Capital Mall.

The original RFP stated the council would not authorize more than $10,000 for the service of the facilitator, but the council approved a motion to delete that section of the RFP.

Mihalevich said there were concerns that if the RFP states any dollar amount, the proposals received will be for that amount and no less.

He said the funds to pay for the service will come from the lodging tax funds dedicated to conference center funding.