St. Clair Shores extends contracts for trash, landscape services and more
ST. CLAIR SHORES – The city council voted to renew contracts with several large companies, stating that the terms offered were likely better than what they would get through the bidding process.
The largest order was from Green for Life, the city-based transport company for solid waste since 2016. The company, which took on the contract awarded to Rizzo Environmental Services in 2013, proposed extending its contract for an additional price at the current price for five years while providing additional services to the city. While St. Clair Shores pays $ 28,000 for one day of collection for hazardous household waste under the current contract, St. Clair Shores gets two of those collection days for free and extends its large brush collection and shredding service year round.
St. Clair Shores currently pays GFL 3,173,920 annually for garbage and recycling services.
Councilor John Caron said he would agree to extend the contract without bidding again because “waste transportation is a logistically heavy industry”.
“Not many companies can do this, and not many companies have a scale to serve a large community like us,” he said.
When St. Clair Shores switched from Waste Management to a new freight forwarder in 2013, “we saw a huge improvement in service,” recalls Caron. And although there were some “hiccups … at some point that day everything was still picked up” at the beginning of COVID.
Councilor Chris Vitale said the contract was signed eight years ago.
“In order to deliver the same costs and pass them on, I was very surprised to receive this offer because … I expect more environmental costs and higher fuel costs, but you agree, so I don’t see how we say no to this” , he said.
The contract was extended by a vote from 6 to 1 February 16, against which city councilor Candice Rusie spoke out.
“I just don’t vote for any bid,” she explained. “I prefer this to be written out. Thank you for your customer service. I appreciate that. “
In an interview on February 17, City Manager Matthew Coppler stated that there is some level of convenience in knowing that the company can provide the service. In addition, the tender process could lead to GFL and other companies bidding more conservatively in their own interest in order to protect themselves against unknown future costs.
“There is potential for changes in the industry that could drive prices up for them too. Companies tend to bid very conservatively, which means higher prices are passed on to us, ”he said. “Do we want to take the risk of bidding when we’ve locked something?”
Landscape Services, Inc. asked the city to extend its current contracts for rodent control, park and rights of way maintenance, irrigation system maintenance, and lawn restoration for a period of three years at the same rates as Order to keep at last year, awarded in 2018.
So far this year, St. Clair Shores has paid LSI $ 746,386 for these services. It paid the company $ 916,182 for the works in 2020 and $ 1,065,209 in 2019. When the services were last offered in 2018, two companies offered rodent control services, three for landscaping, two for irrigation system maintenance, and only a company for the lawn restoration program.
Coppler and city council members said they appreciate the quality of service LSI is providing to the city.
In addition, the fact that the company held prices constant for three years is good business for the city, given potential hikes in the minimum wage and fuel prices.
“The tender would potentially have a detrimental effect on costs as everyone guesses the unknown,” he said. “I think the unknown was positive compared to having something familiar and being able to lock it in our budget for a period of three years.”
LSI was the low bidder in all areas of the contract when the projects were last advertised, he said.
“The amount of work we do with them under this contract, there really are very few companies that have the scale, number of employees, and machines to do the amount of work that we ask for.” he said said.
To make the work more competitive, the city could break it up into smaller amounts of work to appeal to more companies, he said, but that could add to the cost of overseeing and coordinating staff and potentially result in poorer levels of operation.
Councilor Dave Rubello said he believed LSI was respected, reliable, did a good job, and was always available.
“These people have always confirmed the standards and quality of the city to me,” he said.
Vitale said the city used to go with a lower bidder for rights of way, but “that was a disaster”.
“Not everyone can take on these contracts,” he said.
However, Caron said that while he could agree to an extension of the contract by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he could not agree to an extension of three years.
“I think we run the risk that no one else will ever bid because LSI will always get it,” he said. “If others feel like they are wasting time,” don’t bother to bid.
“That’s four contracts. This is not just a contract, ”Rusie agreed. “It’s a lot of money.
“LSI did a great job, but there is no reason not to write this out.”
The extension for LSI was approved 6-2 against Caron and Rusie.
The city council also voted to award three major water projects to Fontana Construction of Shelby Township without tendering the projects.
Coppler said it made most sense to look at the prices offered by Fontana Construction, as well as “their desire and ability to get the job done earlier rather than going through the bidding process rather than starting later in the year”.
Fontana Construction was the lowest bidder for major water projects in 2020. However, due to tightened schedules, the city paid an additional $ 100,000 to complete completion with the second low bidder for two of the projects. At the city council meeting on February 16, the community development department moved to use the company on three major water projects in 2021 at Hanson Court, Grand Lake Street, and Maplegrove Street. In addition to using broken pipes to replace the water pipes, the company will be responsible for replacing supply pipes and moving water meter wells in homes in the area.
“We want to start as soon as possible,” said Caron. “Well over 30 supply lines … will be replaced in these three projects.”
Coppler said there had been positive feedback from local residents they had in their homes on quality work done through the company. With some of the work the company has been hired to do before a summer road project, the city is confident the contractor will be able to meet the promised schedule.
Using the prices from the bids previously given to Fontana, the projects cost approximately $ 842,000 on each street and $ 703,000 for the court.
“I agree that bidding is the way to go, but there are times when you have a really good offer that you know you can’t repeat in the competitive bidding process,” said Coppler.
However, he added that extending contracts without tendering was not an everyday practice for the city.
“There were some other services that wanted to do similar things and we looked at them and we know there is more competition,” he said. “What we were offered was not a good one.
“I think what I’ve heard from practically everyone on the Council is that these are different times at the moment. Blocking certain large orders with no increase (can be good business). The landscape will be different in 3-5 years and we need to be flexible to achieve this. This is not a trend. “