City Council members on Tuesday grilled the owner of Excalibur Integrated Systems, who was the recipient of millions of dollars in city contracts during the Littlefield administration.
The council is holding up on approving a new $240,000 Excalibur contract for extending wireless coverage for a section of Hixson Pike near Hixson High School for the city's Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).
Roger Jenkins said he could not remember the amount of his initial contract with the city five years ago for developing a "mesh" system for powering city wireless devices.
Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said he found that "weird."
Mr. Jenkins said he will research how much his firm of 20-22 employees has been paid by the city to date. He said the total expense of the mesh system thus far is from $8 million to $10 million, but he said some of that has gone to other firms.
He was quizzed about a $20,000 per month city contract for maintenance of the system. He earlier said it was a "self-healing" system and that when one part goes down other parts extend to continue the coverage. He said there is still maintenance work to be done to make sure too many parts of it do not fail. Also, he said the firm helps the city with component updates.
Steve Meyer, former county engineer and Volkert official who is now Excalibur executive vice president, said the firm gets 5-6 calls a day on different issues from the city's Information Systems department.
Mr. Jenkins said when the time came for setting up the ITS, using the mesh system saved the city 40 percent over use of fiberoptic and copper lines.
He said much of the funding has come from grants - not city appropriations.
Councilman Chris Anderson asked if any city employee had been involved with his company. He said former chief of staff Dan Johnson had been his longtime accountant prior to going into government.
Council members asked if another firm could do the ongoing maintenance and what would happen if the company went out of business. He said possibly one other Chattanooga firm could do the work. He said Excalibur has been around for 34 years and he has a succession plan. "We have other customers than the city of Chattanooga," he said.