TEXAS CITY — College of the Mainland’s board of trustees approved keeping the facility, grounds and maintenance services operations in house, rather than outsourcing the positions.

The college received three bids to outsource the maintenance work. While the college could have saved about $128,000 by selecting the top bid, trustees decided to keep the work within the college.

Trustees unanimously approved the move with Trustees Wayne Miles, Ralph Holm, Bennie Matthews, Nick Stepchinski and Board Chairman Roney McCrary voting for it. Trustees Rosalie Kettler and Rachel Delgado were absent from Monday’s meeting.

Three companies submitted proposals: SCC, Federal Building Services Inc. and Comfort Systems. Houston-based SCC’s bid was deemed the best, according to the college. The company offered to do the work for about $2.8 million annually — about $128,154 less than what it would cost to keep the work in house, according to the college.

Stepchinski said that while the board tries to do what they can to stretch taxpayers’ dollars as far as they could go, the savings from outsourcing would be minimal and keeping the college’s employees would be better for the college and the community.

Even after the college reviewed the options and talked to other institutions, Stepchinski said questions remained on how well outsourcing could work and what control, if any, the college would retain over the facility, grounds and maintenance operations employees.

“We’re glad it turned out like it did,” Stepchinski said about keeping the department in house. “We’ve done our due diligence, so we are happy we are going to keep our employees.”

The idea of outsourcing the department has been discussed for the past two years and as employees retired or left the college they were not replaced, said college President Beth Lewis.

There are nine people in its maintenance staff and to get back to full force, the college will need to hire about 25 new people during the next three years, she said.

The college will also get better service by keeping the jobs in house, Lewis said.

“There is a sense of loyalty,” Lewis said. “There is a sense that when people work here, they are going to be more loyal. They are going to have more of their heart in it.”

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

(9) comments

Stephen Murphy

Smart move. I can't believe COM even considered such a move in the first place. Why would the community want to support an institution when the institution won't support the community it serves?

Brian Cann

You can't believe that the administration would explore options to save money? That is serving the community, and I support it. The savings would have negligible so they decided not to do it. Good call on their part.

Stephen Murphy

If a chiller goes down, it would be hours before a company from Houston could get there to work on it. In case you don't know what a chiller is, it's the machine that keeps the indoor environment comfortable so you don't sweat in your panties. Not only that, they would not have the intimate knowledge of the system and the controls that maintenance staff have with the systems at the college. Though the board didn't specifically speak to this issue, I can assure you someone told them of this specific possibility and how it would affect the staff and students. Saving money is one thing, but saving a few dollars a day to hire outside contractors based on a low bid is asking for trouble. Also, keeping people employed has more benefits than sending them to the unemployment line.

George Croix

It's the right decision at this time. I hate to see loyalty repaid with a kick in the rear and out the door.
It would be a good idea, though, to keep exploring ways to save taxpayers money, AND to get/keep the fees and tuition up to the level that it costs to provide the services, and add a bit of profit.
A college is a business, not an entitlement social service.

Interestingly, I never did hear back from the claimant who said it could be an issue of security to allow contractors on COM campus who are illegal aliens.
I asked why, if that's so, is it just fine for COM to have illegal alien students attending classes there?
Well?

npappous
Norman Pappous

And the taxpayers once again are given the shaft.

By definition, the potential savings stated indicate the board is over-valuing the services of the department.

Once again fiscal responsibility takes a backseat to the "go along to get along" crowd.

Nothing about outsourcing means current employees would lose their jobs. That is a red herring...

George Croix

You are right, of course, Mr. Pappous, that outsourcing need not impact the current employees, but unless I missed it...a distinct possibility...there was no option for grandfathering incumbent employees.
It was the baby out with the bathwater.
I just can't support that, absent documented poor performance.
But, you'll notice some of us have stated that this should in no way prevent future better stewardship of taxpayer funds.
Personally, I'm so happy to NOT hear the paper tiger roaring every week over there, I have to be careful not to give a pass on everything else.
I'm still waiting for the explanation from that former COM Candidate as to why illegal aliens are dangerous to hire, but OK to have as students.
Her comment, not mine.

Raif Smith

How can outsourcing be cheaper?
I would think that only by lowering wages, cutting benefits, poorer service could a company make a profit. Pushing wages down low enough would put people in need of tax payer support. Food stamps, Medicaid, etc

So the tax payer supports the company so it can make a profit

Outsourcing is a buzz word for business. However a political entity is not a business and anyone to tries to run it as such will be a failure.

There are no free lunches. Services must be paid for one way or another

George Croix

It's almost, say again almost, always cheaper up front to outsource because there are no proprietary benefits to pay for. The purpose of outsourcing at any business is not to save the federal taxpayers money, it's to save the business money. There is also less hassle, typically, with sick days and vacations and such, because the contractor is the one who has to fill in the gaps. Another very tangible issue is less HR issues, as a rule.
A college is a business.
Any attempt to run a college like anything other than a business, is how messes like COM got itself into come to be.
You cannot sell your product for less than it costs to produce it, or eventually you go broke, or in the case of a business with taxing authority like COM, the people tell you to take your request for bond money and go pound sand.

The spreadsheet issues aside, my personal experience favors proprietary employees, IF they will give full measure for getting full pay. Generally speaking, they only need one learning curve due to a lot less turnover, and all other thinsg equal, they do, I believe, have more job loyalty.
Where I spent the better part of 4 decades, I'd have to say that the split was pretty much 50/50. About half the time our own folks did a better job, and about half the time contractors did better.
There's no way to predict the outcome, without trying it, because people vary.
One good way to have a better shot at not having jobs outsourced, is to make it too attractive to the employer not to do so.
As mentioned, money is not all that's on the decision table.

JBG JBG

"It's the right decision at this time. I hate to see loyalty repaid with a kick in the rear and out the door." "It would be a good idea, though, to keep exploring ways to save taxpayers money, AND to get/keep the fees and tuition up to the level that it costs to provide the services, and add a bit of profit." "A college is a business, not an entitlement social service.".......gcroix 4/29/14
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I agree with you 201.3/4%! I too think this was an outstanding decision under the circumstances. I not only like that it was done,....I LIKE HOW IT WAS DONE! It sets the stage for future progress, cooperation, and productivity going forward. Teamwork 101.

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