TEXAS CITY — After reviewing bids to outsource College of the Mainland’s facility, grounds and maintenance services operations, the college president will recommend keeping the work in house. 

The college’s board of trustees will consider President Beth Lewis’ recommendation at a meeting Monday. 

The college began looking into the possibility of outsourcing the maintenance work last year. The cost of covering health insurance and retirement benefits, which the college picked up after the state stopped paying for the benefits, partly drove the decision to look into outsourcing. 

Three companies submitted proposals: SCC, Federal Building Services Inc. and Comfort Systems. Houston-based SCC’s bid was deemed the best, Lewis said. 

The company offered to do the work for about $2.8 million annually, according to the college. 

But even though a change would lead to a potential savings of about $128,154, the college would be better served by keeping the work in house, Lewis said. 

“While it is a little bit more expensive to keep it in house, we feel that it’s better all the way around,” Lewis said. 

“It’s better for our employees. It’s better for the community.”

 The college would get higher quality service by keeping the maintenance crew employed by the college, Lewis said in a memorandum to trustees. And the potential savings could easily be negated by extra costs the college could incur in a contract with an outside company, she said. 

The college employees about nine people in its maintenance staff and has a new director, Charlie King, who helped review the proposals, Lewis said. 

If trustees approve Lewis’ recommendation, the college would likely need to hire about 25 new people to the department during the next three years. 

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com


 

At a Glance 

WHAT: College of the Mainland Board of Trustee’s meeting

WHEN: 12:30 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Appomattox Meeting Room, 1501 N. Amburn Road, Suite 4 in Texas City.

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com

(10) comments

George Croix

I generally favor proprietary employees vs contract.
But this article raises a question or two or three, or...:
1) It says they'll get higher quality service from in house staff. In what ways? Were the bids not for high quality service? Were examples of the work provided by the bidders to current clients reviewed? If not, then how do you know?
2) It says 'potential' savings 'could' be negated by extra costs the college 'could' incur with an outside contractor. You have a hard figure bid of savings in hand, so how are they 'potential', and why go for bids if you're going to just guess about extra costs?
3) You have a staff of nine now, but say you'll hire 25 more in 3 years, IF the proposal to stay in-house is approved!? Why? Is everyone leaving, 3 times, in the next 3 years? Were the bids based on the nine or the coming extras?
I know it's a measely 128 grand, but one 'old white right', 'old disgruntled taxpayer' who helped earn it for you is confused by this report.

Carol Voight

Gecriox, a few of your questions are easy to answer. Most companies that provide these types of services claim to provide quality, but in reality don't. I have been on many campuses that outsourced custodial services and you can smell the difference. In addition, the majority of employees of these companies are undocumented workers, sadly, because they can be paid a much smaller wage. This creates a huge employee turn over ratio so a lot of strangers will be entering sensitive areas of the college daily. In this age, that is not a very smart safety practice. The 7 maintenance employees referred to didn't include custodial staff. There are about 25 now, and many of those employees are close to retirement. Personally I believe this is a good recommendation. There are many other ways to save money without destroying the livelihoods of loyal employees a couple of years before retirement. The custodial and maintenance staff at COM care about the college and the students. You can witness this daily as staff members routinely go above and beyond to make the campus top notch. I think this is the first good decision made by this President since she started.

George Croix

I only asked three...[smile]
"Most companies that provide these types of services claim to provide quality, but in reality don't."
I certainly agree with that. Saw/see it happen alll the time.
That's why I asked if any examples of service to current clients was reviewed, or if an assumption of possible poor service was used based on possibility.
I've personally seen worse, and better service. Depends on the provider's staff.
I did not know, until I saw.

"Uncocumented workers" is PC for illegal aliens.
I certainly don't favor that status. On the surface the 'strangers' issue vs safety sounds perfectly reasonable and in principal I fully agree with you, yet I wonder if, in actual practice, many 'strangers' do not come to COM every day. Of course they do. Even first time students coming to register are 'strangers' at first. If I come to get a look at 'protesters' I'm a stranger on campus. So is the news photographer taking pix of all 6 of the sign carrying protesters.
Still, you make a valid point about safety vs illegal aliens in your comment.
I can only wonder, then, why COM allows illegal aliens to attend classes on campus, when such lack of citizenship status could pose a security/safety threat.
Waiting for that one.

"The 7 maintenance employees referred to didn't include custodial staff. There are about 25 now, and many of those employees are close to retirement."
Perfectly reasonable info, although the article said 9, and '25 more'. It's not the first time an article was crosswise with facts.
I certainly agree that it's good to plan ahead and prepare for attrition when the job(s) require a minimum number. I saw and experienced first hand, several times, the fallacy, even the explosive results, of failing to do that, or of demanding that one person be in 4 places at once.
Good idea to be prepared.

"There are many other ways to save money without destroying the livelihoods of loyal employees a couple of years before retirement."
To what ways do you refer?
I'd ask the same thing about 'government waste'. If we KNOW how to save Joe Taxpayer money, why is COM (and my Uncle in DC) not already doing so? Is the answer here, like there, political? I just wonder why it's taken over 40 years to get to looking for sufficient savings and thus avoid such 'studies' and bidding. Not that long ago, 100 million bucks was asked for from taxpayers, presumably because ALL of it was needed to pay for new things and renovation at COM, not to allow already known savings opportunities to be unused.
Anyway, in general, I certainly whole-heartedly agree with not screwing over loyal employees, especially those near the end of career. Saw that happen, too. Really enjoyed watching some of them get called back to work at double previous pay to help fix what nobody would listen to them saying needed fixing.

Thanks for your reply. Will keep an eye out for the rest.
Still an old, white, right taxpayer...but a bit more gruntled these days...[wink]

Gary Miller

The mistake was going to Houston for bids on custodial and maintenance staff as a single contract. Requesting bids on each service from local companies would be smarter.
Saving local tax money by hiring local workers should have been the goal. Hiring local workers would grow the local tax base.
COM seems to think their prime duty is spending local taxes. Isn't OPM free?

JBG JBG

Quite frankly I think my Ole Piney Woods, fellow East Texan, KNOCK it out of the park this time! I agree with what she proposed, with all that has been said so far! People not invested in this community have never seem to make "good stake holders" in the visions of businesses here! One of the things which impressed me about this President was,.. the story mentioned that a representative of the employees in question, who works for the college, was on the review committee who screened the bids! THAT TO ME, IS CALLED WORKING TOGETHER,..AND I LIKE IT! "TEAMWORK 101!"
-
Again, with the differences mention between the bids, I think what the President proposed is a great idea, and at the least she can buy time for the remaining employees by grandfathering them out,...while phasing in a suitable contractor, if that turns out to be what is wanted!
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It makes sense to me,...lets see if the COM BOT thinks the same, or will they pull the rug out from under her?
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George Croix

Summarizing...myself...[beam]...
Keep the current employees, and allow those near retirement to retire.
Do so because it's the right thing to do, in an old fashioned 'non-progressive' way of interacting with people who've shown loyalty. It's what any good manager would do if the opportunity to do so was present.
Also, keep an eye out for better ways to do business.
AND, when giving a reason and/or making points/excuses, keep in mind that a simple, straightforward one usually always beats heck out of a bunch of smaller ones that, themselves, raise as many or more questions than they answer.
Like...mine... [beam][beam]

JBG JBG

That man, like the President is from East Texas,....what is it about us? We......, let me stop bragging ...........[smile]

JBG JBG

Not DC's President,...I meant COM's President!!!! [smile]

George Croix

Maybe two eyes out...??

George Croix

carol4com:
"In addition, the majority of employees of these companies are undocumented workers, sadly, because they can be paid a much smaller wage. This creates a huge employee turn over ratio so a lot of strangers will be entering sensitive areas of the college daily. In this age, that is not a very smart safety practice."
Me:
"Still, you make a valid point about safety vs illegal aliens in your comment.
I can only wonder, then, why COM allows illegal aliens to attend classes on campus, when such lack of citizenship status could pose a security/safety threat.
Waiting for that one."
Five days later, still waiting............
Nobody has to answer anybody in this forum.
People running for office, though, are not usually allowed to make conflicting statements without being challenged to explain, a handful of media darlings excepted.
Ergo, I humbly suggest one of three options be pursued:
Forget running for office.
Become a media darling.
Walk the talk.

OWR/ODT

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