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City looks to outsource Brazilian pepper removal

By Staff | Feb 14, 2011

Cape Coral City Council will look to outsource removal of exotic vegetation and Brazilian pepper trees in 10 square miles, a move the city administration claims could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Staff is recommending the job be awarded to Fort Myers-based Ecosystem Technologies, the lowest of 14 bidders for the job.
Companies that responded to the Request for Proposal had a wide range of bids, as high as $800,000, and as low as $86,000, which was Ecosystem Technologies’ bid.
The RFP was a highly controversial result of Special Consultant Jim Martin’s work, who claimed that Public Works was running inefficiently and identified three areas, one of which was Brazilian pepper tree removal, that should be outsourced.
Interim Public Works Director Steve Neff said outsourcing the work will save the city money, and coupled with the city’s lot mowing program should eradicate the invasive species within that 10 square miles identified in the RFP’s scope of work.
Despite saying he would likely support the move when it come to vote next week, Councilmember Marty McClain argued that outsourcing the function would not actually provide any real cost savings to the average taxpayer, as both lot mowing and Brazilian pepper tree removal are funded through special assessments.
“There is nothing being transferred to the General Reserve fund, everything is going to happening within that program (of special assessments),” McClain said. “I do have concerns that what appears to be cost savings really isn’t a savings at all.”
City Manager Gary King said those assessments could be rolled over for property owners, giving them the opportunity to save money that way.
“That money is not evaporating, there will be $250,000 in budget savings this year,” King said.
Neff said there will be one adjustment to the proposed contract, by adding an additional $8,600 worth of work, so that Ecosystems Technologies can add an additional round of chemicals to ensure the invasive plants are destroyed.
Ecosystem Technologies President David Jones said residents shouldn’t be worried about the chemicals effecting the city’s water quality or water wildlife, as they use safe chemicals.
“If we get close to water or close to a flow-way, we use an aquatic herbicide that you can safely spray into the water,” Jones said.
City Council will vote on the RFP next Monday.