West Palm Beach this week formally put out a call for private companies who would take over the community redevelopment agency.
The city commission voted Aug. 12 to put out for the “request for qualifications.” The deadline for applications is October 4th. A panel of city and outside people then will rank the companies.
Muoio has said in the past the privatization might end up costing more in the long run, but will be more “agile” and let the city avoid having fulltime employees for the work or bringing in one-time contractors for short-term projects.
“I know we have our naysayers,” Muoio said Wednesday at her weekly media availability. “A year from now, we’re going to be saying it’s the best thing we ever did.”
Kim Briesemeister, CRA executive director since 2004, resigned Aug. 26, saying she wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, since a private company she runs will make a pitch for the assignment.
Briesemeister is co-owner of Broward County-based Redevelopment Management Associates. Since 2009, Briesemeister has both run RMA and spent 28 hours a week as West Palm Beach’s CRA director.
Muoio dismissed any intimation that she’s already decided on Briesemeister’s firm.
“I would like to assure people that we’re going to do this in the most transparent way and in the fairest way possible,” she said. She added, “If she’s the best person for the job, she should get the job. If I can find someone better than Ms. Briesemeister, that’s what we’ll do.”
Muoio also said she’s not worried about a scenario in which a private firm would find itself representing two cities competing for the same project or grant. She said that never happened during the years Briesemeister wore the two hats of RMA chief and West Palm Beach CRA director.
“There are people out there in the private sector who have multiple clients,” she said. “You expect people to represent each of their clients in a fair manner and that’s what we’ll expect from anybody who gets this contract.”