McHenry hires firm to complete audit of its capital improvement program

The McHenry City Council has agreed to hire construction engineering firm Leopardo Companies Inc. to complete a capital program audit.

The aim of the audit is for Leopardo to identify ways the city can save money while addressing needed capital and equipment improvements. The company won’t charge McHenry for the audit unless the city decides not to implement the program Leopardo ultimately designs, in which case the city would owe the company $50,000, according to city documents.

If the city decides to pursue the plan, Leopardo will serve as the general contractor to implement the improvements, according to city documents.

The company in 2018 presented McHenry with a plan to make energy-efficient improvements to save money. The proposal included converting McHenry's 400 street and parking lights to LED; upgrading aging heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems to high-efficiency models; and using an open-ended lease plan for city vehicles as opposed to buying new ones outright.

“The opportunity presented by Leopardo Companies Inc. provides the city with a way to redirect existing funding and/or costs savings/reductions to finance improvements to public facilities and a way to implement a realistic vehicle and equipment replacement program,” City Administrator Derik Morefield said in a memo to the council. “Leopardo Companies Inc. will either develop a plan that is cost neutral or better for addressing needs, or they will not. Neither of these will cost the city unless we choose not to implement a feasible plan that is presented. Doing nothing provides us with no alternatives.”

McHenry has put off completing needed maintenance and improvements to its buildings, equipment and vehicles due to its financial situation for so long that the situation is dire, Morefield wrote.

“Unfortunately, needs far outweigh the funding mechanisms currently in place and without thinking ‘outside of the box’ the city will continue to edge towards the virtual edge of the cliff on being able to address most of these issues,” Morefield wrote.

City Council unanimously agreed to the plan.