By Ralph Ellis

Sandy Springs is cutting ties with CH2M Hill – the private company that provided everything from employees to paper clips when the new city sprang to life five years ago.

The council voted May 17 to award five major contracts to three other companies. City officials said the cost of these contracts, plus contracts for financial services and information technology awarded last month, will save the city $7 million yearly compared to current contracts. The switch becomes official July 1.

Mayor Eva Galambos said the city still embraced the public-private model because it’s the most efficient and provides the best service.

“The difference was the price and that’s the private market,” Galambos said. “It works.”

City council members praised CH2M Hill, a Colorado-based engineering company, for helping launch Sandy Springs. But as the economy worsened in recent years, the city complained that CH2M Hill’s lump-sum contract didn’t provide enough detail about how the money was being spent.

Paul Demit of CH2M Hill told the council that the company was “deeply disappointed” in the council’s decision and felt the city had “disenfranchised” CH2M Hill employees. But he finished by wishing the city well, and when he left the podium council members rose to their feet and applauded in appreciation.

“We knew the model would evolve over time,” Demit said in remarks outside the meeting. “We felt we were warranted the opportunity to serve the city after June 30.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.