Politics & Government

Macon-Bibb commissioners set to challenge Reichert’s veto

One of the biggest questions heading into Tuesday night’s Macon-Bibb County Commission meeting is whether commissioners are able to override the mayor’s veto of an effort to rebid the investment consultant job for the city-county pension plan.

On April 23, Mayor Robert Reichert vetoed legislation that would have reopened the bidding process for firms to make their pitches to manage the Macon-Bibb County pension. Commissioners approved the reopening of the bid process 7-2, with commissioners Scotty Shepherd and Mallory Jones voting no.

Independent Portfolio Consultants of Boca Raton, Florida, was hired last September to manage the plan. However, commissioners Gary Bechtel and Larry Schlesinger have said the county’s bidding process wasn’t followed and that it might have been influenced by a previous professional acquaintance between one of the firm’s executives and County Manager Dale Walker when he was chairman of the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan from 2004-07.

The commission needs six of its nine members to override Reichert’s veto, and it was unclear Monday if the mayor had persuaded enough commission members to change their votes.

“We certainly hope so,” Reichert spokesman Chris Floore said. “We think it’s in the best interests of everyone (to stay with Independent Portfolio Consultants). It could cost millions of dollars to switch. Based on the return, we’re pleased with their performance.”

In its first quarter of managing the fund, the firm reported earnings of just under $11 million, minus fees of about $500,000, Floore said.

“The return on investment is very high,” he said.

Bechtel said he is working with other commissioners to override the veto Tuesday night.

“We’re working toward that end, but we won’t know until the vote is taken,” he said.

Bechtel said he and Schlesinger may meet with Reichert before Tuesday’s vote, but he said it’s likely the commission will still attempt to override the vote during the commission meeting.

Bechtel said not following the bid process could impact whether companies are willing to do business with the county.

“I don’t think the process was followed in the spirit it should have,” he said. “I objected to the way they got this group in, not doing full-blown due diligence.”

Bechtel said he wasn’t arguing the firm’s results, but he wants the bid process to avoid what he called “crony capitalism.”

He said he and other commissioners hope the process will be rebid. He said Independent Portfolio Consultants can still put in a bid if it is reopened.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to go through it, but Commissioner Schlesinger and I feel the obligation to go through the process,” Bechtel said.

Before Tuesday night’s commission meeting at 6 p.m., the county is holding two public hearings at 4 p.m. in the commission conference room at the Macon-Bibb County Government Center. One hearing deals with changing the name of May Avenue to David L. Pitts Boulevard, while the other involves allowing motorized golf carts on designated public roads.