Tulare cleans up spending

The city of Tulare decides to privatize street sweeping services to save the city over $300,000 annually 

TULARE – The city of Tulare has found a way to save money by contracting street sweeping services out to a private company. It will allow the city to sweep the savings into other areas of need.

On Sept. 1, the Tulare board of public utilities unanimously authorized the city manager to sign a contract with Central Valley Sweeping Inc. The contract will be held for two years and will save the city a little over $300,000 each year starting Jan. 1, 2023. Contracting out will help the city in multiple ways as Central Valley Sweeping will now carry the over-head. The city has also taken the necessary steps to find alternatives for the current affected employees. 

City manager Marc Mondell said the city is nearing a point in the growth of the city where they were at a crossroads. “We would have to make a big decision, are we going to go buy a bunch more equipment and hire more people or go a different route,” Mondell said. 

According to the staff report, the new service levels provided by Central Valley Sweeping Inc., will provide the same level of service to customers at a significantly lower cost to the city and the change will not affect rate payers. One major drive for the city to make the change is the opportunity for the city to grow without this additional cost. 

“The genesis of this was management in parks and public works has been thinking the city’s growing about 300 homes a year,” Mondell said. “That means we’re taking on a lot more subdivisions, and a lot of our equipment is getting older.” 

Mondell said he is trying to double the rate of growth of homes in Tulare to about 600 per year. The cost to supply street sweeping even at the current level of growth would be unreasonable compared to the alternative. Currently Tulare’s 2022-2023 budget for street sweeping services is $950,970. That only includes four drivers and six trucks. The new contract with Central Valley Sweeping Inc. will only cost the city $566,297.20. 

However, not all the burden is off the city. Central Valley Sweeping Inc. will sweep the streets, but the city is responsible for the debris the sweepers collect. The staff report stated the city is responsible for hauling and landfill fees and is anticipating that cost to be around $50,000. The remaining difference will give the city the opportunity to spend money in other areas.

“Our intentions are to take that money and roll it right back into commercial sanitation,” Mondell said.

City staff began researching and evaluated bids from four different companies, in which they ultimately chose Central Valley Sweeping Inc. for multiple reasons, one of them being cost. This company has an unprecedented amount of experience and currently provides services to the cities of Visalia, Reedly, Parlier and Kingsburg. They have also served Kerman, Corcoran, Fowler and Lindsay. The staff report says they are the primary sweepers for J.G. Boswell, Kraft Foods, Visalia Unified School District and NAS-Lemoore. 

As it stands now, this contract is for two years and will be evaluated depending on how the city feels about the level of service at the end of the contract. It can then be renewed from there on out. 

As far as the employees go, now that the city of Tulare has approved the contract, Human Resources will be working with affected staff and their union, California League of City Employees Associations or CLOCEA, to help them find new jobs. Mondell said the city has provided the four affected employees with three options. One option is for the individuals to find a different job within the city’s Solid Waste Division or other city divisions. There are currently three open positions in solid waste, senior maintenance and two residential drivers as well as a full-time senior operator position opening in October due to a retirement. 

If the drivers would rather stick to street sweeping, Central Valley Sweeping Inc., has expressed their interest in hiring the employees. “Based on our understanding of the current employees good standing with the city, knowledge of the sweepers and city sweeping routes and [their] years of experience, we would be very interested in interviewing them for employment,” Matthew Bawks, president and chief executive officer of Central Valley Sweeping Inc. said in a letter to the city.

Their third option is retirement if the employees are eligible.

Central Valley Sweeping Inc. has also expressed interest in purchasing the city’s current sweepers. Mondell said the city will most likely keep one, but sell the remaining five. By selling the equipment the city will also see some additional revenue. If Central Valley Sweeping Inc. decides not to purchase the trucks, they will sell them at auction. 

According to the staff report and letter to the city from Bawks, Central Valley Sweeping Inc. has been sweeping the streets of the valley since 1977. They currently have 2,500 scheduled clients.

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