Janitor washes hands of city contract - Morgan Hill Times: City Local Government

Janitor washes hands of city contract

Company hired to scrub CRC and Aquatics Center quits, saying contract amount not worth it

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, September 3, 2012 1:18 pm

The janitorial service company contracted by the city to keep its two largest recreational facilities clean, quit the job less than two months after it was hired, as the previous contractor predicted.

Customized Performance, a San Jose company that was hired to clean the Centennial Recreation Center and the Aquatics Center, gave its 30-day notice to withdraw from the one-year contract Aug. 15, according to Morgan Hill recreation manager Nick Calubaquib.

The company determined it “didn’t make financial sense” to continue the contract, Calubaquib said.

The City Council voted 4-1 to approve the $74,400 contract June 6. That price, submitted by Customized Performance as part of the public bid process, was apparently an underestimate.

The company tried to renegotiate the contract with the city before exercising the contract’s exit clause, but those discussions did not work out in Customized’s favor, according to company spokesman John Krause.

“We underestimated some of the hours it would take to fulfill the contract,” Krause said. “It got down to a financial situation, and both sides wanted to make sure the contract was honored.”

Krause added the company harbors no ill-will toward the city, and supports the city’s efforts to use the public funds appropriately.

The city will now attempt to re-contract the job to the company who received the second-highest “score” based on their proposed price and ability to perform the work in the initial bidding process, if that company is willing to do it, Calubaquib said. If not, the third in line would be approached for the job.

The next two companies in line after Customized proposed cleaning the recreational facilities for $80,340 and $84,013, respectively, according to city staff.

A new contract would require City Council approval at the Sept. 19 council meeting, Calubaquib said.

The City awarded janitorial contracts in two “groups” in June - one for the recreational facilities, and a second one for the Community and Cultural Center and the Friendly Inn. The latter contract was awarded to Pacific Maintenance Company, based in Santa Clara, for $36,500 for one year.

The awarding of the contracts followed a public bid process to which 11 companies replied, but not without some resistance.

Employees of the city’s previous janitorial contractor, Firato Service Company, protested with handmade signs outside City Hall before the June 6 meeting, urging the city to retain the Morgan Hill company and save local jobs.

Nick Firato of Firato Service Company predicted at the June 6 meeting that the lower-priced proposals submitted to the city for janitorial services were unrealistically low, and it would not be possible for the contractors to continue the job at those prices. Furthermore, he criticized the city staff’s scoring system to evaluate the 11 companies that submitted bids, which he labeled “unclear” and lacking in transparency. Firato Service Company, which cleaned the facilities last fiscal year, offered to continue cleaning the recreational buildings in June for about $99,500 a year.  

The owner of Firato Service Company said last week the whole cleanup-contract process is “a mess,” and the city will continue to have trouble holding onto its janitorial contractor if they’re seeking the lowest price. Rich Firato says the next-lowest bidder will also back out before the contract is up for the same financial reasons.

“They’re going to say it’s not worth it,” Rich Firato said. “We want the contract at the price we submitted, because in a fair world, that’s a fair price to get all of the tasks done correctly.”

  • Discuss

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Dave McRae posted at 5:30 pm on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    Dave McRae Posts: 72

    Well, you can negotiate for less services, like every other day cleaning, etc on the next contract, etc. Each case is unique.

  • WillliamYancey posted at 12:09 pm on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    WillliamYancey Posts: 61

    Well, if the money isn't there for the city to hire someone directly, it's not there to hire a contractor, either, which would render the entire problem moot.

  • Dave McRae posted at 10:23 am on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    Dave McRae Posts: 72

    Again, you also have to factor in supplies, and I'd assume that will be in the tens of thousands of dollars, insurance, etc. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm saying it's more complicated than you're making it out to be.

    I'm not sure how many people you've sat across a table from and taken away thier livelihood, their childrens livelihood, and their diginity, but you NEVER want to be in that position, and to hire people you have no funding for the following year or two sets you up for having to lay off a worker.

    I've had to lay off and fire people. I get through it by telling myself I have to feed my own children, and it's my children or his.

    But no, you can't sleep the night before, the week before, really. Sometimes, they take out a gun and shoot you. When it's actually YOU that has to do all this, you can suddenly see the extreme value in contracting out something you don't have time to supervise anyway.

    Oh yeah, and the supervision costs, training costs, OSHA requirements you have to meet.

    I see both sides. And, I have been a custodian for 8 years. A lot can go into these decisions.

  • hypocrisyhater posted at 7:52 am on Mon, Sep 10, 2012.

    hypocrisyhater Posts: 234

    Yancey knows a number of undocumented people the city could hire on the cheap.

    Or just take a flatbed by A-1 Rentals any day of the week and pick up a whole crew.

  • WillliamYancey posted at 2:32 pm on Sun, Sep 9, 2012.

    WillliamYancey Posts: 61

    28% of 30k is 8,400. So, 76k.8/year for two people. Still cheaper than most of the bids that were offered. Factor in the less tangible benefits of people earning a living wage, as opposed to the people earning minimum wage with no benefits that Customized Performance hires, and it's a much better deal.

  • Dave McRae posted at 7:16 am on Sun, Sep 9, 2012.

    Dave McRae Posts: 72


    The usual addition for salaries to include benefits is about 28%. So, you're really talking about $50,000 each plus supplies. That may be more than can be regularly budgeted for.

    But I do agree with the approach. A city employee can be flexible and go to different assignments at different locations and can even work split shifts. I was a custodian while I went to school. A hired custodian takes care of lots of little repairs a contractor doesn't do. You "care" for your building, it's more than a profit thing with a permamnent employee.

    But if you don't got the money long term, it's hard to commit to that.

    But this points out the ecopnomic fallacy that you can just "decree" what you're willing to pay a government worker. I am also a government worker.

    If you don't offer enough money, I'll just go somehwere where they will. It's economic reality, certain jobs get paid. Everyone can complain about what it costs for police and fire, but when there's no one qualified to do the work because of low wages, then you'll ust have to go without. Just like with the janitors contract. People just walk away from you and go to where the grass is greener.

  • R-BRO posted at 12:34 pm on Wed, Sep 5, 2012.

    R-BRO Posts: 5

    This town is spreadig itself too thin, more and more people coming in, less and less services being put out. Morgan Hill is run too much like a business intent on meeting some kind of "growth" goals rather than maintaining and improving the town for the long time residents that give Morgan Hill it's small town vibe with big city conveniences, at the current rate we'll just have more big city problems and less charm. And I don't even get what the deal is with that RDA money thing, but it seems shady.

  • WillliamYancey posted at 12:10 pm on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    WillliamYancey Posts: 61

    Ya know, the city could hire a couple to work full-time as janitors at the Community Center, pay them 30k/year (not much for MH, but pretty good for janitorial work), and save themselves some money. But, I guess people are still clinging to the repeatedly debunked myth government saves money when they contract out their work.