The City Council has asked for a more formal selection of the consultant who will receive up to $100,000 to help develop a million-dollar computer system for the city.
The computer contract became a sensitive issue for the city last month when City Manager Allan L. Roeder received an anonymous letter accusing him and other city officials of improperly recommending a Newport Beach consultant to the council.
The Police Department investigated, at Roeder's request, and declared that nothing illegal or improper had been done.
Finance Director Susan Temple asked the council recently to authorize a contract with AEF Systems Consulting Inc. The Newport Beach firm has been highly recommended by other cities that have bought expensive computer systems, Temple said. The city will spend at least $1 million on the system, said Communications Director Vincent M. Whelan.
But council members said they want Temple to formally request the qualifications of other consultants.
"I don't think the end result is going to change any, but it takes any doubt away from the process," said Councilman Peter Buffa. The council voted 4 to 1 to delay selecting a consulting firm until Temple receives statements of qualifications from other firms.
Councilwoman Mary Hornbuckle voted against delaying the contract, saying she trusts the city's staff to select the consultant with whom it will work best. "I'm not going to attempt to design the system," she said.
Temple said it could take six to eight weeks to get statements from consulting firms.