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Petersburg city council vote to hire Robert Bobb Group

PETERSBURG, Va. -- During a special meeting Thursday night Petersburg city council voted to hire The Robert Bobb Group to help turnaround city services.

This comes after a motion to hire the consulting firm failed to pass in a deadlocked vote during a city council meeting Tuesday night.

One of the sticking points of the decision was spending more than $300,000 to hire the group.

During Thursday's session, council members voted 4-1 to hire the group. Councilwoman Treska Wilson-Smith was not at the meeting. Tuesday's vote was 3-3-and one abstention.

Councilman John Hart said he changed his vote against hiring the group because he hadn't had the opportunity to read over the proposal. Now that he has, he said he supports the move.

Robert Bobb

Robert Bobb

The Robert Bobb Group is a national consulting firm which focuses on turnaround projects in both the areas of business and government.

Robert Bobb is the President and CEO of the firm and has an administrative career that has spanned more than 30 years. He recently served as the emergency financial manager for the Detroit Public School System.

He previously served as Richmond’s City Manager from 1986 until 1997. He also served as city manager for the cities of Kalamazoo, Michigan; Santa Ana, California; Richmond, Oakland and Washington, D.C.

During Thursday's special meeting, city council decided to move forward with a forensic audit on the city finances. The audit will take a closer look at the city books and could discover wrongdoing in regards to city finances.

The decision went against the wishes of the Petersburg city attorney who argued a special grand jury in Chesterfield has already been called to investigate city government and the audit is a waste of resources.

Petersburg city council originally voted unanimously to have a forensic audit in February.

There are currently two bids to do the forensic audit for the city. One will cost $197,000 and the other will cost $300,000.

Council votes against Robert Bobb Group Tuesday night 

There were three no and three yes votes and one abstention. The audience seemed less divided about the decision.

"I'm glad it happened,” said resident Ron Moody.  “We don't have that money to spend.  If we've got that kind of money, give it to the fire department, or the schools."

"I'm sure they need some assistance, I'm sure they need some expertise, but the $300,000 is money we don't have, we've already cut to the core,” said Bob Kennedy.

Darrin Hill, who represents Ward 2, is one of the three on Council who voted no.

"To me it would have been senseless to hire them as a consultant, in my opinion, after we're asking everybody else to take a 10 percent cut in their pay,” Hill said.

While many thought the vote on Tuesday meant the decision was final, it may not be.

“My vote stands and if it comes to that I'll be prepared to vote again,” Hill said.

But at least one "No" vote may be prepared to change, which could upend the balance.

"The Mayor called the meeting and I think someone from the other side is wanting to possibly change their vote on the Robert Bobb Group,” said Sam Parham, Petersburg Vice Mayor.

Watch CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. for updates on this developing story.