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How Wise Municipal Leaders Work with Engineering Firms

Posted by Susan Nelson on Tuesday, January 07, 2020 @ 10:00 AM

Group of business people assembling jigsaw puzzle and represent team support and help conceptAs any effective municipal leader will tell you, leading a community is hard work. Every. Day.

In the challenging world of municipal government where local resources may be limited, but local infrastructure needs are not, bringing an experienced, innovative engineering firm into the fold is an effective and efficient way to reach your goals.

Civil engineers work on a variety of projects above and below ground that affect residents’ daily lives. Whether it's providing high-quality drinking water or improvements to the wastewater or stormwater system for those you serve, working with a strong, committed-to-your-mission engineering firm is key to your administration’s success.

Especially if you are new to your role as a mayor or council member, you will benefit from hiring a consulting engineer for your project(s) when:

  • A fresh look at the situation could develop new alternatives (including an independent review of the problems and solutions).
  • A written description of the project is needed to communicate with your residents, including the need for and benefits of the work being planned.
  • Municipal staff capabilities are limited in terms of expertise and time.
  • Broad and deep planning is needed to address challenges from funding a project to communicating the need for improvements.

You may be asking: what criteria should I use to engage with a high-quality engineering firm? 

There are many talented firms to choose from, so it’s a matter of the four Rs…

  • researching your options
  • referrals from other municipal leaders you trust
  • reaching out for initial get-to-know-you conversations with firms who seem to fit the bill for services you need (partnering with a high-quality firm early in a process or project is critically important)
  • responding to proactive calls you may receive from interested firms (the ones on the ball are impressed with your vision and want to contribute to your progress).

When you meet with engineering firms you are considering, think about:

  • Is the firm’s focus general or specific?  Do they specialize or do they tell you we can do anything you need?
  • Have the representatives done advance research to be familiar with your community?
  • After hearing your input, are firm representatives ready with initial recommendations for next steps moving forward?
  • Do they clearly explain their process and how their firm partners and builds relationships with clients? Are important details sought, such as how do you as a municipal leader like to communicate (via emails, phone calls, are Mondays better for you than Fridays)?
  • Are they eager to answer all your questions? If they don’t have specific answers at that moment, what is their commitment to getting back to you and…did they do it?
  • Do they have educational resources you can take advantage of to learn more about their infrastructure work? While it’s not your responsibility to know the engineering industry, Wessler is focused on offering helpful tips for your benefit and to help those you serve.
  • What makes them unique above other engineering firms you could hire?

From a project’s concept to completion, you deserve an engineering firm who advocates on your behalf, has the expertise to put together a high-quality project at a cost-effective price and who treats your project as if it were their own. 

Got those? You’ve found your engineering partner!

Tags: economic development, consulting engineer, professional engineer, community connection, civil engineering, Wessler, Funding, Asset Management, Capital Planning, Capital Improvements

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