Category Archives: Maintenance

Editorial: Government privatization can be costly to taxpayers

Source: News-Press, October 9, 2015

Four years ago, Lee County began outsourcing some of its landscaping and maintenance work to private companies. It was touted as a cost-saving measure, much like all privatizing of government services are characterized. … In a recent “Tell Mel” column by Melanie Payne, a Lee County spokesman said that over the past two fiscal years, county taxpayers saved $1.5 million by allowing private contractors to do the work the county once paid its own employees to do using county-owned equipment.  We contend the money didn’t go back in taxpayers’ pockets. Instead, the “savings” of privatizing will be an ongoing cost to taxpayers as workers whose jobs were outsourced are forced to access government programs and services to survive on a less than living wage. The contractors who bid on the county work couldn’t possibly offer the same level of pay and benefits to their workers that Lee County did. Instead, as workers contend in the Tell Mel column, they were paid just above minimum wage and often in cash. There were no benefits. And if they didn’t show up for some legitimate reason – if they were sick, for example — they weren’t paid. So who’s supplementing the difference in wages earned by workers who cut grass for the county and those cut grass for the company who has the county contract? The answer: Taxpayers.

Outsourcing of staff avoided

Source: Jacklyn York,, September 22, 2015

In an effort to realize nearly $300,000 in budget cuts last spring, administrators considered outsourcing some campus services, including janitorial services and groundskeeping. … Eliminating nine positions, he said, was a better alternative for the university, noting that all of the positions were unfilled meaning that no people lost their jobs. Of the people in the positions considered for outsourcing, almost half of those have been with the university for 10 or more years, Owen said, noting that people working for the university tend to stay in their jobs much longer than when they work for a private company. …

Once a ‘Sopranos’ prison, school cafeteria gets a makeover

Source: Laura Herzog,, September 12, 2015

… Officials praised the sunny finished product, and the novel decision to have the architect work with in-house labor to complete it, rather than sub-contractors. The district has now done four renovations this way, saving money in time and change orders, because the district can set the workers’ hours and the workers know about the old buildings’ ins-and-outs beforehand, said Business Administrator Luigi Campana. It also used this method in three other schools, including a similarly colorful cafeteria makeover in P.S. 12. … “I think it’s groundbreaking in a lot of ways,” said Steven Tully, the associate director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees who works for the school. “The trend (in school districts) is to outsource work… Unless you’ve worked in a school, you have no idea what’s there.”

Contractor Accused of Underpaying Mexican Guestworkers

Source: Laura D. Francis, Daily Labor Report, September 1, 2015 (subscription required)

A Mississippi landscaping company that received more than $9 million in state contracts to maintain rural shoulders and medians was accused Sept. 1 of violating federal law by underpaying its Mexican guestworkers and lying about it. … The amended complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, claimed that Culpepper Enterprises Inc. failed to pay the six workers the prevailing wage as required under the H-2B low-skilled, nonagricultural guestworker program. Instead, the complaint claimed the workers were paid the federal minimum wage—but illegal deductions for housing, combined with failure to reimburse travel and other costs, brought their actual wages below even that level, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Clawson school board to outsource janitorial services

Source: Randy Wimbley, Fox2 Detroit, August 29, 2015

More than a dozen custodians will  be unemployed in a few days as jobs are outsourced to a private company. The school board says the move will get the district back on solid financial footing among a number of cost cutting moves. Teachers and administrators took a 3 percent paycut but the move is not sitting well with some. … Parents and custodians gave clawson school board members an earful after trustees voted 4-3 to outsource custodial services. Thirteen employees including Dan McHale who’s been with the district for nearly 30 years will be unemployed in a matter of days.


Clawson school board votes to privatize custodial services
Source: Victoria Mitchell, C&G Newspapers, August 12, 2015

The Clawson Public Schools Board of Education voted Aug. 10 in favor of privatizing its custodial services, a move supporters say will save the district $300,000. The Clawson High School media center held a full house of attendees for the meeting. The final tally was 4-3 in favor of entering into a three-year intergovernmental agreement for custodial maintenance services with Ferndale Public Schools to utilize that district’s private firm, GCA Services Group. … Through the agreement, Clawson Public Schools will outsource its custodial services with GCA Services Group employees and lay off 13 custodians employed through the district. …

District to decide on privatizing custodial services
Source: Victoria Mitchell, C & G News, July 22, 2015

The Clawson Public Schools Board of Education will decide next month on whether to enter into an agreement resulting in privatizing maintenance and custodial services in the district….Board President Jessica Back said that although she’s deeply saddened about having to support privatization of custodial services, other district employees are shouldering the brunt of the cutbacks. “I have real trouble justifying holding on to the custodial staff when we already cut teacher salaries, we’ve cut teachers’ salaries by 3 percent, plus we’ve asked them to take more concessions, and that is a hard thing to do and that directly affects students,” she said..

..Many residents and custodial workers attended the July 13 meeting in support of keeping the custodial staff. “Above all, I have safety concerns,” said parent Christen Wilder. “I can walk into Schalm school and recognize the faces of those people that belong there, but more importantly, the custodians know who does or doesn’t belong in a building.” The lifetime resident and parent of two children said she is concerned that an outside company would not provide the dedication to after-school activities, fundraisers, practices and events. “I would hope that maybe some maneuvers to streamline services and increase productivity and efficiency could be explored,” she said. Tony Dematties, head night custodian at Kenwood Elementary School, named a long list of duties the custodians perform in addition to cleaning. “Other attributes we bring are the familiarity of buildings, equipment, children, families and the community, and our genuine concern with keeping the children safe,” he said. Dematties said outsourcing will hurt the district, children, staff and community.

School district considers privatizing custodial services
Source: Victoria Mitchell, C&G Newspapers, June 17, 2015

The Clawson Public Schools Board of Education began publicly discussing privatizing its custodial services last week in an attempt to save more than a quarter of a million dollars. …. The district’s 2015-16 budget projects a fund balance, like a rainy day bank account, of just below 2 percent of the $22 million general fund. The district’s goal is a minimum of 5 percent. …. The district employs 13 custodians covering 419,543 square feet of buildings and 20 acres of property. Clawson Public Schools has 1,750 students and is expected to drop to 1,700 students in the 2015-16 school year.
Privatization would result in layoffs of the current custodial staff….. Under the privatization plan, Clawson would hire GCA Services Group and receive the services of 21.5 custodians, including two full-time maintenance men and two dedicated groundskeepers….

R.I. transportation officials say taking over Wickford rail station ‘no-brainer’

Source: Patrick Anderson, Providence Journal, August 25, 2015

Rhode Island’s top transportation official Tuesday said he doesn’t know why his predecessors at the Department of Transportation kept renewing a contract to run the Wickford Junction commuter rail station in North Kingstown that, by his estimate, paid more than three times what it would cost the state to do the work itself. … Making current RIDOT employees clean bathrooms, shovel snow, cut grass, make repairs and watch over the Wickford Junction station and parking garage will cost the state $112,200 each year, the agency said, instead of the $488,984 it was paying the owner of the surrounding shopping plaza.

What Our Towns Pay: How many employees does a town need?

Source: Liam Migdail-Smith, Reading Eagle, August 17, 2015

… Towns don’t want to create in-house departments that aren’t needed, Janssen said. But he’s also seen governments rely too heavily on consultants and end up paying far more in fees than they would by adding a salary and benefits. As development swelled in Spring Township in 2007, the township hired its longtime engineering consultant, Jim Moll. The in-house codes enforcement operation was also ramped up. Moll’s $118,000 engineer’s salary topped the Spring Township payroll in 2014. But township officials said they save far more than that by bringing most engineering work in house, along with other tasks such as writing zoning ordinances…

… Wyomissing has had success with a different approach. The borough has a very small administration and has been increasingly turning to outside contractors. The most recent shift was staffing summer parks programs through an employment agency. That shifted the liability and related costs away from the borough and cut the staff time that came with hiring and paying seasonal workers. But the changes were all behind the scenes, borough manager Marti Hozey said. Even though the employees are the employment agency’s, the borough keeps the same control over them and the parks programs. “We found that it was actually a better choice for us,” Hozey said. In hiring an outside landscaper to trim grass, Wyomissing was able to free up its maintenance staff to work on other projects that better fit their skill sets, she said. But some services make more sense to bring in house, Hozey said. For example, the borough employs staff arborists to maintain its many park and streetside trees because it found it couldn’t get the same service when contracting out. Kutztown does just about everything in house. It offers standard utilities such as water, sewer and trash collection. But it also crosses into territory uncommon for municipalities: Electricity and cable, phone and Internet service…

Trustees outsource maintenance to new contractor with custodial, grounds

Source: Chelsea Katz, Kilgore News Herald, July 22, 2015

Kilgore College trustees voted unanimously Monday to move forward with outsourcing of the maintenance department, bringing the custodial, maintenance and groundskeeping services under one company’s umbrella. The move could cost the college as much as 20 percent more than it has been spending on those services. … One of the “driving factors” of the decision was the state had “offloaded 100 percent of the benefits costs for that classification of employee on to the college. There was no subsidy,” KC President Bill Holda explained to the packed second floor of the Stewart McLaurin Administration Building. About the time the cost of benefits began to go up, he said, the state’s share of those costs for other employees went down. … Holda “guesstimated” the college put in roughly $2.1 million per year for grounds, custodial and maintenance services. During interviews with the different companies college officials found the school will have to spend between $300,000 and $400,000 more per year to make the place “appropriate.” …

Outsource? Of course

Source: Victoria K. Sicaras, Public Works, June 8, 2015

Cedar Falls, Iowa, used to have only 30% of vehicle and equipment parts in stock at any given time. With everything else ordered as needed, mechanics were routinely pulled from repairs to chase down parts and vehicles sat idle for hours, days, even weeks.

In 2013, after exploring the option for some time, public works and parks manager Brian Heath outsourced parts management. The contractor, NAPA Integrated Business Solutions (IBS), liquidated the city’s inventory and gave Heath the proceeds, and then provided an onsite parts operation which consists of a full-time manager and vendor-owned inventory…In 2000, NAPA IBS won Chicago’s VMI bid. The city’s fleet management department went from dealing with 300 vendors to one, and from owning $14 million worth of parts to less than $500,000 (internally fabricated and rebuilt parts, used and recapped tires, and warranty parts, all of which NAPA also manages). NAPA has dedicated employees in each of the department’s 16 maintenance shops .

In 6-hour meeting, Ann Arbor schools privatizes grounds crew, mandates state test

Source: Lindsay Knake,, June 25, 2015

In a six-hour meeting, the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education passed policies and proposals that mandate students take state assessments and privatize the district’s grounds services. …. The consent agenda included hiring contractors for grounds work, purchasing the second phase of a math program for elementary students, increasing breakfast rates by 25 cents, buying security equipment and bus purchases as part of the district’s $33 million bond project. In hiring four contractors to provide snow removal and grounds services, the district privatized the services and laid off 13 employees. The move will save the district up to $300,000 in the coming school year….