By Megan Kelley
Lake Orion’s Downtown Development Authority met virtually last week with several items on the docket for discussion, including the review of the 16 marketing bids and the intent to approve the hiring of Hudson Collective, per the recommendation of DDA Executive Director Molly LaLone.
While most of the board was willing to approve the recommendation as originally presented, concerns were raised about the lack of board involvement in the review process that had started on April 29 and ended on June 3.
The review team that consisted of LaLone, DDA Board Chair Debbie Burgess, DDA Treasurer Matt Shell and Village Manager Joe Young selected Hudson Collective, Blended Collective and Right Hook as their top three bids.
The three companies selected by the review team then gave a marketing presentation to the team in person.
While both the opening of the bids and the subsequent presentations were open to the public, DDA board members were not present nor was information sent out to board members.
Township Supervisor Chris Barnett, who sits on the DDA board, questioned the process, noting that a local company — the Hoffman Agency — that had provided one of the lowest bids was not selected to even present to the review team.
“We did not pick the lowest qualified bid and to be honest, we’re spending $80,000, this would be something that maybe we would have a brief presentation to the DDA board at a regular meeting for us to be the last questions of these groups,” Barnett said. “I would have loved to have input. This is going to be one of our largest line-item expenditures and I think the DDA board should be privy to being involved in these discussions.”
Village Council President Ken Van Portfliet, who also sits on the board, spoke in disagreement with Barnett, saying that the board should have confidence in decisions made by oversight committees, and not necessarily require a presentation to the full board.
“I had read the complete packet and I liked the criteria that were used for the selection process. References were checked out. And I have to trust sometimes when we create these oversight committees that they’ve done their due diligence. There was a lot of work put into this. So, I have no problem with the recommendation,” Van Portfliet said.
Ultimately, the board agreed to hold a special meeting to hear presentations from the top four recommended marketing bids received by the DDA.
The companies presenting are expected to be Hudson Collective, Blended Collective, Right Hook and the Hoffman Agency.
Information on when the meeting would take place was not immediately available.