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Martin: city could save funds outsourcing Public Works functions

By Staff | Dec 6, 2010

Special consultant and sitting CRA Board Member Jim Martin filed a report Monday that speculates the city could save over $1 million annually by outsourcing some of the Public Works Department’s functions.
Paid over $20,000 for the examination, Martin postulates that the city’s street sweeping, pepper tree removal and dredging programs are not only failing, but costing the city millions of dollars in the process.
Martin wrote the city “should pursue a performance-based contract for outsourced services” for all three areas, and that RFPs (Requests for Proposals) have already been generated and released, with proposals due by the end of the year.
The report also included a photograph of a street sweeper dumping what is presumed to be a very minute amount of trash.
The photograph was tagged as being “One (1) Days Sweeping Efforts,” but found by Councilmember Marty McClain to have no context or supporting information.
He said much like the recent fuel management report filed by Bill Towler, Martin’s report was “one sided” with nothing substantial.
“What used to be gossip is now gospel,” McClain said. “We need to vet this information in both directions … I have nothing to support what’s here.”
While the official report wasn’t made public or made available to city council until Monday, one news station aired a report on the subject Friday.
Councilmember Derrick Donnell said “the process” by which information is made public makes the reports by Towler and Martin “appear as an attack,” and that the council was in a “defensive posture.”
Donnell said he would also like to see city staff or department heads respond to the information in the reports.
“I would love to see, whatever they find, that staff has the opportunity to respond,” Donnell said.
City Manager Gary King said the Martin and Towler are city staff, and their reports are the input the council member was seeking.
King also said that Martin and Towler are exempt from using time cards or time sheets to monitor their working hours.
“These people are employees,” he said of his special consultants. “They work for us, for me, they speak for me, and they represent this city.”
Mayor John Sullivan said that no employees were mentioned in a negative light in either report, and that the reports aren’t meant to attack employees.
“I don’t think the consultants are a threat, nor should they be a threat,” Sullivan said.
Councilmember Bill Deile said “the next attack” on city employees would be where the consultants next find waste.
Councilmember Erick Kuehn called Martin “a very intelligent man,” and that the reports merely illustrate “no accountability” in the various departments that are the focus of the reports.
“In all three instances there was no accountability,” Kuehn said of Martin’s report. “As long as there is not accountability, we will continue to do probing.”