[Updated significantly about 7:55 a.m.]
Municipal Code, Chapter 54, Financial Administration (my emphasis):
The City Manager or his designee shall have the authority to enter into contracts for the purchase of goods and materials, the provision of contractual or professional services, and the construction of public improvements authorized by the approved annual budget in the amounts from $10,001 to $20,000 without the necessity of any additional City Council approval.
So was the hiring of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins as a consultant an authorized budgetary expense? If not, a budget amendment approved publicly by the city council is clearly required no matter what the cost.
It’s a legitimate question anytime, but even more urgent because there’s a precedent. See, in October 2007 city manager Mark Biernacki secretly hired a contractor to develop a rental inspection program that didn’t exist.
Equally important is an explanation for how a project that was supposed to cost less than $20,000 now requires authorization of expenditures up to $40,000. (That’s a pretty serious miscalculation, Mr. B.)
Check out this agenda packet. On pp. 174-183 you’ll see the product KTJ has produced so far, for $17,000+.
Why is amateur hour costing so much? Well, the premium does make it possible for the city to attempt to hide behind attorney-client privilege when somebody like me starts snooping around and requesting records to better understand why the firm was hired in the first place.