We want to be your VERIFY election headquarters. As candidates run for office across Central Georgia, we are making sure they're telling you the truth.
Jacob Reynolds sat down with the Warner Robins candidates for mayor. During their interviews, two of the candidates started discussing city spending on consultants.
To verify what they said we went straight to the sources, Chief Financial Officer Holly Gross and City Clerk Bill Harte.
Candidate Joe Musselwhite said they needed to stop spending money elsewhere.
“We paid a million dollars in consulting fees in the last four years. The city has. If you divide 40,000 into a million, the answer's 25. 25 policemen. You can employ 25 policemen with the amount of money they've spent on consulting fees,” Musselwhite said.
We verified that the first part of his statement is true.
Warner Robins spent just under $1 million on 11 consultants from January 2014 to January 2017, according to Gross. Gross says Warner Robins spent $960,193.61 on consultants in total.
However, the second part of Musselwhite's claim doesn't add up.
Since it was $960,000 since January 2014, that would not provide enough money each year to pay for 25 police officers.
To justify the money spent on consultants, candidate and current Mayor Randy Toms said this:
“One of our consultants, no doubt, has been able to show us over at least the next three years how we can save what they believe to be a guaranteed $830,000 a year over the next three years. That's a pretty big dent,” Toms said.
On Twitter, Steven Miner asked us, "Did you verify the 800k in savings the consultants are gonna save the city of WR?"
We did, and the claim is true. Gallagher Benefit Services told the council at a September 18 meeting that a change in prescription providers for employees would save $835,000 a year.
Gross says that change will take effect in January.
WMAZ took a closer look at all the consulting fees Warner Robins has paid since January of 2014 and where the money went:
Mario Cambardella $26,505.00
Charles Raven Whatley Jr. $184,000.00
William Walter Gray III $48,090.00
Government Solutions LLC $39,244.08
Martha Ann Lumpkin $1,834.46
Sapp Engineering $86,000.00
Jesse Fountain $20,288.00
Constantine Engineering $145,943.90
Ocmulgee Inc. $30,400.00
Keck & Wood $31,513.17
Gallagher Benefit Services $346,375.00
City Clerk Bill Harte explained what each one of those expenditures was for:
- Cambardella is an arborist who helped evaluate trees at Walker’s Pond to make sure the City followed on state law, meaning which trees were allowed to be removed.
- Whatley Jr. works with city employee, Gary Lee, on economic development.
- Gray III is a former city engineer who was contracted after leaving to help Forrest Walker, current city engineer, with the transition.
- Government Solutions LLC is a lobbyist for the city with the state legislature to help bring in state funding and grants for projects.
- Lumpkin is a former recreation employee and was paid to help transition program registration after leaving.
- Sapp Engineering helped the city on ‘several’ natural gas pipe and meter installations.
- Fountain worked on the SPLOST referendum and city development issues like planning and zoning.
- Constantine Engineering is a utility engineering company and has helped with infrastructure projects.
- Ocmulgee Inc helped the recreation department with consulting, design, and environmental assessments as well as SPLOST projects.
- Keck & Wood has worked with the city for at least 15 years on natural gas projects and helps the city with a federal report that must be filed monthly.
- Gallagher Benefit Services consults on all employee health benefit issues and recently took over workman’s compensation issues as well.
For reference, Warner Robins’ budget for this year is $87 million.
Bill Harte, Warner Robins City Clerk
Holly Gross, Warner Robins Chief Financial Officer