The Grand Rapids City Commission extended its contract with Dykema Gossett PLLC for three more years last week.
In return, the commission saw the law firm cut its consultant fee by 20 percent for the first two years of the extended agreement and by 16 percent for the contract’s final year.
Dykema Gossett has been the city’s federal affairs government consultant, or Washington, D.C., lobbyist, since 2006.
“They have done a good job for us,” said Haris Alibasic, an administrative analyst with the city. “Without the support of Dykema, we wouldn’t be going very far.”
Alibasic reported that Dykema helped the city capture $575,000 in Congressional funds for fiscal year 2008 and more than $1.1 million the following fiscal year. So far this year, the city has collected $750,000 from Congress. He said the city could receive another $850,000 this year once Congress works its way through more appropriation bills.
Alibasic said the firm has also helped the city make contact with various federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of Management and Budget. He said that assistance has become even more valuable in the last year, when Muskegon and Ottawa counties were separated from Kent County in the Metropolitan Statistical Area — a move that left the city in an MSA with a population of less than one million residents, which downgrades its importance nationally.
Dykema Gossett will charge the city $5,600 a month for the next 24 months, down from the $7,000 monthly fee the city has been paying, and $5,880 per month for the extension’s final 12 months.
Overall, the city will pay the law firm $67,200 a year for the first two years and $70,560 in the third year. The city paid Dykema Gossett $84,000 this year from a contract it entered into in 2007.
“They’ve been very gracious in negotiations,” said Alibasic of the law firm.
Still, 2nd Ward Commissioner David LaGrand didn’t think the agreement’s monthly fee structure was all that efficient. “An hourly contract with these people would make us use them as efficiently as possible,” he said. “That being said, I will vote for this contract because we’re clearly getting value from it.”
But 1st Ward Commissioner James Jendrasiak opposed the agreement — the lone commissioner to do so — because he felt the city would do better to spend the money in another manner.
“When you look at $67,000 for a whole year, we could have another police officer or firefighter that would offer the people more value,” he said. “I’m not going to support this.”