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Local

Marseilles mayor says marketing consultant worth the money

Marseilles Mayor Jim Hollenbeck defended the city's hiring of a marketing consultant and the process for the hire.

During Wednesday's council meeting, former commissioner Bob Davis questioned why the position wasn't bid, advertised or approved by commissioners before the contract was signed.

Hollenbeck, with a subsequent 3-2 approval by commissioners, agreed to a marketing contract with Michelle Turner for $48,600 per year for the duration of the council's term. Turner also was hired for some web design work on a contract of $20,000 prior to the marketing agreement.

Davis directly asked City Attorney Richard Burton whether it was legal to hire Turner without a bid.

Burton said since the hire was for professional services, it was legal. Hollenbeck compared the hire to seeking a city attorney or city engineer. The mayor said no bids were taken and no advertisement issued, because Turner approached the city.

Davis believed the $48,600 pay was too high. Hollenbeck said he researched what other cities spend on economic development, and if the city gets results, it will be well worth it. He said Turner has worked hard on updating the city's Facebook pages and website. She also will help the city market the old Nabisco and Washington School sites.

"She's more than just designing the website," said Hollenbeck after the meeting. "She's also going to work with us on the development of Interstate 80."

Davis's questions were not entirely new. Commissioners Jim Buckingham and Nathan Schaefer voted no, questioning the finances and the communication before voting on the hire.

Piggybacking off a reference to census from earlier in the meeting, Hollenbeck noted the city has roughly 400 more people than it did in 1940.

"That's not a good thing," Hollenbeck said. "We'd like to see some growth. If we don't, we're going to start losing money from the state and grants."

Hollenbeck said the city is looking for results. He said the city spent $25,000 for three years of North Central Illinois Economic Development Corporation's services and nobody contested it, despite its lack of success.

In other items:

• Commissioners approved a $95,710.31 payment for the levee improvement project. Buckingham said the project is 85% done and he plans on scheduling an open house for the public after it is completed.

• The Young Street culvert replacement project is completed and a payment of $58,104 was approved.

• A payment of $206,621.10 was approved to Advanced Asphalt of Princeton for the Fillebrowne Street project.

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