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O’Fallon Council votes to allow design-build as option for city construction

At its June 22 meeting, the O’Fallon City Council passed an ordinance that will allow the city to use a design-build process for city projects.

Design-build procedures utilize a single contractor for a project’s design and construction. Proponents of design-build say the construction method can reduce risk, lower cost and allow for easier changes/adaptations as needed. The ordinance states that the use of design-build “will offer the city another option, which may result in a more effective manner of constructing certain public improvements.” The legislation passed 8 to 2.

The ordinance originally came before the council at its June 8 meeting; however, three members of the council were absent from that meeting. Councilmember Rose Mack [Ward 2], who voted against the measure on June 8, requested that the ordinance be discussed during the council’s June 22 work session. During that discussion, Mack asked why the ordinance, sponsored by Mayor Bill Hennessy, was brought forward to the council.

According to Public Works Director Steve Bender, there was discussion, during last year’s budget conversations, about renovating city hall using a design-build process. While the city wouldn’t have to go that route, the ordinance offers the ability for design-build to “just be another tool in the tool box,” he said.

Councilmember Jeff Kuehn [Ward 4], who works in construction, shared some concerns about the ordinance during the work session. He said design-build makes “perfect sense” for some projects but felt the city’s ordinance was too broad.

“I think any consideration for design-build contracts that are to be utilized for the city should be very specific in scope and I believe that specificity should be put into any ordinance relating thereto,” Kuehn said.

Bender suggested the council could require that any contract planned for design-build get approval before bidding. Prior to the council’s vote, the ordinance was amended to require city staff to seek approval for using design-build for projects and provide reasons for why it would be “advantageous.”

Kuehn and Councilmember Reid Cranmer [Ward 3] voted against the ordinance.

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