Officials needed a little more support during long City Council
meetings, so for $12,000, the city replaced 12 chairs purchased in
While the old chairs were selected to match the Art Deco look of
the council chambers, members of the city’s executive team agreed
they were uncomfortable for meetings that can last up to six hours,
said Bob Van Hazelen, the city’s fleet and building manager.
As the city wrestles with balancing a projected budget shortfall
of $9.5 million, City Manager Mary Alvord justified the expenditure.
“The bottom line is, we expect executives to sit there for very
long periods of time,” Alvord said. “These are people who I need to
count on to be [at the top of their game] at work the next day.”
The $1,000 price for each of the new chairs, replaced April 1,
includes a $150 writing surface and a $100 bookshelf under the seat,
Van Hazelen said. The old ones were $600 each and included a writing
surface built by the city for about $100 per chair.
“The old chairs went to Human Resources for [its] training room
and receiving area,” Van Hazelen said. “Since they have desks on
them, that was a good use we found for them.”
Money for the replacements came from projected savings from the
city’s building-maintenance account.
“The account is usually in pretty good shape,” Van Hazelen said.
"[We were able to pay for them] without sacrificing
building-maintenance functions or building- maintenance projects.”
Another purchase that did not perform as expected occurred in
1999, when Oracle Financial Systems software was installed in the
city’s computer network to manage the payroll, budget and other
functions. The city spent about $1 million more than its initial $2.2
mil- lion to fix the troubled system, Financial Services Manager
Derek Hanway said.
The glitches resulted in the formation of the Information
Technology Department, which continues to be served by Oracle
software, in 2000.
To ensure the new chairs in council chambers will provide the
proper cushioning, two samples were loaned to the city for more than
a month so that executives could test them.
“We rotated them from position to position so that everyone that
wanted to test them could,” Van Hazelen said. “I’m not saying that
everyone did, but I think there was high interest in doing so.”
Alvord conceded the extensive testing process “is what we should
have done the first time around.”
Since other city employees were sometimes given chairs that were
not a good fit for them, the purchasing division started offering
workers a chance to test-sit chairs about six months ago, Van Hazelen