A former Winnipeg city hall staffer is raising concerns about how the city awards some contracts for the refurbishment of the police service's future headquarters.
Brian Kelcey, a University of Winnipeg civics lecturer who once worked as an adviser to Mayor Sam Katz, circulated an open letter to city councillors and administrators on Tuesday about what he called "an unusual pattern of contract awards at city hall."
Kelcey said he believes the city awarded a project management contract for the police building without competitive bids or political approval.
"The city's rules are the city's rules, and from every piece of available public evidence I could check, their rules were not followed," Kelcey told CBC News.
"If there's some reason to change those rules, maybe they should stand up and admit that."
The city has paid a firm belonging to Ossama AbouZeid, a construction consultant and former interim chief executive officer of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, about $262,580 in fees to date without tendering the contract.
In his letter, Kelcey noted that the chief administrative officer and other city managers are required to solicit competitive bids on capital projects in which "the estimated value of the consultant service … exceeds $100,000 in total, including all phases of any given project … unless otherwise authorized by the Executive Policy Committee."
Kelcey also stressed that he has no evidence that any of the firms involved in the matter has compromised or manipulated city rules.
In an email sent late Tuesday, a city spokesman said legal staff are looking into Kelcey's allegations and will respond on Wednesday.
The allegations have caught the attention of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which posted Kelcey's letter on its website.
Colin Craig, the federation's director in the Prairies, says untendered contracts are rarely a good deal for taxpayers.
"It can lead to extra costs for taxpayers if you don't shop around properly, and that seems to be the case again with the police headquarters," Craig said.
The following a financial status report on the police headquarters redevelopment project that was presented to council's finance committee on Dec. 3: