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August 4, 2011

Clark County Building Authority Board unlikely to privatize custodians

Director: Three people not enough to clean county’s government building

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Clark County Building Authority Board has not entirely ruled out a plan to privatize its cleaning services, but the prospect is nearly dead.

“That will be a last resort [to] get rid of the employees,” said Board President Keith Stayton. “That’s what I’ve said all along ... if we should ever entertain that.”

A plan to outsource the building authority’s cleaning services was presented to the authority’s board in mid-July by County Councilman Brian Lenfert. He said the plan could save the county as much as $300,000 annually. In order to realize the cost savings, a separate company would be contracted to clean the Clark County Government Building.

The building authority has a staff of seven that cleans the building and the savings would be attained by firing the employees and replacing them with three contract workers who would work six-hour shifts.

Building Authority Director Mark Van Gilder said the building could not be maintained with two workers and a supervisor.

“You can’t clean this building with two people,” he said. “Two [people] cannot clean 132,000 square feet. The city of Jeffersonville has a 30,000-square-foot building and uses three people to clean the building. That right there tells me something.”

The quote on the cleaning services Lenfert received totaled $63,480 annually and included all equipment, chemicals and labor. The building authority’s annual budget, of which only a portion goes to cleaning services, totaled $864,000 for 2011.

However, Van Gilder said a number of cleaning costs were left out of the bid price, including scrubbing the tile floors throughout the building and various supplies.

“You’re looking at $63,000 to $64,000 just to scrub the floors three times a year,” he said.

He also cited that standards require the building authority to maintain the upkeep of the building until the end of the building authority’s bond issuance in 2029 and that the facility is maintained as “class A” office space.

But the building authority has not ruled out making reductions to its budget.

“We’re still trying to cut what we can to help them out,” Stayton said.

A number of cuts were offered to save money, including cost-savings on supplies by buying in bulk or bidding out for supplies. Other potential areas for savings are through employees paying more on their insurance. Furloughs also were considered for building authority employees.

“If we should implement all of the things I’ve mentioned here, and counting the savings from the insurance, we’re probably looking at $50,000,” Stayton said.

That estimate is annual, but any benefit would not be felt this year to help cover the county’s shortfall.

Stayton also said he doesn’t see where the authority could cut 10 percent out of its budget. A vote on that measure for county offices could occur Monday.

Board Member Charlie Gregory agreed.

“That would be a substantial [cut],” he said.

It is also not the first time the building authority has been asked to make cuts to its staff. Four employees were laid off last year when its budget was rolled into the county’s general fund.

“Last year, they came to us with the same story and we got rid of four people and saved them $260,000,” Stayton said. “Our employees picked up the slack. Evidently they did a good job because we don’t hear any complaints from anybody else in the courthouse. Two years later ... they want us to fire all of them for picking up the slack and I’m just not in favor of doing that.

“Our job is to take care of this courthouse — that’s what we’re appointed to do. And I feel like keeping the employees and trying to cut corners somewhere else is the best way to get that job accomplished.”

Following his comments, other board members said they agreed.

Near the end of the meeting Van Gilder said the building authority will need additional funding to carry it through the rest of the year.

“We do have enough money to pay for today’s payroll, the liability insurance and this month’s billing ... and then we’re going to be pretty much exhausted for money,” he said.

Clark County Commissioners are expected to vote on whether to grant the building authority a payment that dates back to June and is still outstanding and its funding to operate the building for the remainder of the year.

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