Contract Sweeping Services, which was awarded a bid last year to perform routine street sweeping in the city’s residential areas, got a reprieve in January after the City Council voted to give the company more time to come into compliance with the terms of its contract.
City staff had recommended the contract be terminated, citing a number of violations by CSS, including inaccurate GPS logging, not conforming to signage requirements, sweeping areas on garbage days and modifying the sweeping schedule without notifying the city.
In June last year, the council voted to outsource street sweeping services, making it the first city service to be privatized as part of a city-wide effort to generate savings.
The contract was expected to save the city about $107,000 a year, but the city has already spent about $34,000 in the first six months of the contract supervising CSS operations and performance — money that had not been budgeted.
“It was some rocky roads in the beginning,” CSS owner Joe Bella told the council in January. “We have addressed every issue brought to us.”
City staff disagreed.
“We have had a series of ongoing issues,” Community Services Director Neil Krutz said.
After some rather lengthy and heated exchanges between city staff and CSS officials, which included city staff showing pictures supporting their position that CSS is not meeting the terms of its contract, the City Council voted to give CSS more time to remedy its problems.
“I feel like I’m in the middle of a divorce,” Councilman Ron Schmitt said at January’s meeting.
Councilman Ed Lawson told CSS officials that he didn’t want to hear more excuses, but also that he wasn’t ready to terminate the contract.
“I just think we have too much invested at this point,” he said.
Meanwhile, Councilwoman Julia Ratti, who voted against privatizing street sweeping to begin with, indicated that she was ready to terminate the contract based on an increased number of complaints she had heard about CSS’s performance.
The contract is good for one year with an option to extend it up to three years.
The contract provides that CSS sweep arterial streets once every two weeks, medians, islands and residential roadways every 60 days, and trails and bike paths every six months.
The city has kept its fleet of five street sweepers in order to conduct fall leaf pick-ups and for use depositing sand on roads after snow and ice storms.
Today’s meeting of the City Council will take place at 2 p.m. in the Sparks Legislative Building at City Hall, 745 Fourth St.