Commission takes up cleaning issue

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The County commission's building and maintenance committee discussed the cleaning of county buildings, and received input from interested parties who had earlier been asked if they could clean their own areas.

Several department heads had made the effort to attend the Monday evening meeting.

"I'm in favor of doing what we have to do to save money," said Dorris Wayne Weaver, register of deeds, adding that his staff wouldn't have a problem cleaning up in their office.

Jan Allen, director of the Marshall County Memorial Library, said the library is professionally cleaned once a week, and the rest of the time her staff keeps it clean.

"If my staff had to do all the cleaning, it would make us very busy," Allen said. "We're serving the public 55 hours a week. I'm also concerned with someone coming in to clean that we don't know. When we had that before, stuff came up missing."

"Why do other buildings have to be done five or three times a week when we make do with one?" asked Allen.

This question was answered, at least in one case, by the next speaker, Jason Lewis, head of the health department.

"The health department gets professionally cleaned five days a week," he explained. "It's the nature of healthcare service that cleaning needs to be done every day." Lewis pointed out that if his staff spent time cleaning they would have that much less time to devote to the healthcare needs of the public. In response to questions from the commissioners, he did admit that cleaning the health department three times a week might be sufficient as long as "trash in certain areas is removed every day." The health department's budgeted cost for cleaning is $18,000 per year.

"I don't mind whatever we have to do, but we don't have time to do the vacuuming," said Circuit Court Clerk Eleanor Foster, the next speaker. "We have a tremendous amount of traffic in our office, and we are there all hours of the night when there's a trial - my ladies are busy all day."

"There are things we can't do, but we want to work with you," Foster concluded.

"I have no problem," County Clerk Daphne Fagan said. "We can vacuum and dust; my girls would be glad to do it."

"Whatever has to be done, we'll do what we can," agreed Jo Ann Henry, administrator of elections. "We'll tidy up when we can, and already there's less trash because of recycling."

"I've told Freda (Terry) to set up pre-bid conferences," said committee chairman Mickey King. "We can bid it two or three different ways. Let's get some figures to see what kind of savings we can make. I need a motion to include two or three different options, like cleaning the common areas only, or cutting back to three times a week in all buildings."

"Let's bid all of these options," said Don Ledford. "The contract as it is today; all buildings three times a week; all buildings once a week; common areas every day; common areas three times a week; and common areas three times a week and offices once a week."

"It's a moving target right now," exclaimed Billy Spivey.

"We need to specify things like whether the floors are wet-mopped or dust-mopped," budget director Freda Terry pointed out. "We've got to try to make the bidding field level; that's the purpose of the pre-bid conference."

"We have five buildings each with specific needs - we need to get a price per building per day," commented commission chairwoman Mary Ann Neill. "Then we can develop a package and define what we can afford."

"That might be an easy way to do it," agreed Terry.

"If you start separating it too much it might not be attractive to bid," cautioned Ledford.

The amended motion to request bids for cleaning services was passed unanimously. The mandatory pre-bid conference, during which the prospective bidders look at every site, will be held at 8 a.m. Friday, May 29.

The pre-bid conference for those who want to bid on mowing, fire extinguishers, and pest control is the preceding day, also at 8 a.m.