After a complaint about poor performance, Columbia County officials have considered a new option for janitorial services for county facilities.
"It's just not been a good situation, and I'm looking to see what we can do to make it better," said Tax Commissioner Kay Allen, who recently complained to commissioners about the lack of cleanliness in her offices.
Allen operates two offices in the Evans Government Center and another in Appling. She said trash cans often are overflowing, her employees often have to dust their own desks and she recalls only one time that the windows were cleaned.
"I feel like the buildings are just not being cared for," she said. "Because we've got a contract, the company is sending someone, but just not with the intensity and care we are expecting."
The county recently concluded a $412,000 contract with Southern Management for janitorial services. They have been continuing the contract with the company on a month-to-month basis.
"We're looking at maybe using county employees to police their own area and just have a service come in and clean up our public areas, like restrooms and hallways," Deputy Administrator Scott Johnson said.
The county Management and Financial Services Committee approved that option during a Tuesday meeting. It now will go to the full board as a consent item March 17.
As a different option, officials recently asked for proposals from other custodial agencies and received a low bid of $467,000 from American Facility Services, Johnson said.
Allen said she opposes simply going with the low bidder. She would prefer to hire an agency on her own.
Through one of her employees, she asked commissioners to add $60,000 to her operating budget to contract for custodial services for her offices.
"I want to be responsible for directly negotiating with the company, because then if those employees do not perform ... I would like to be able to find another company," she said.
In the past, complaints about Southern Management had to be made through a layer of county bureaucracy, Allen said.
Phone messages left for Southern Management were not returned.
Johnson said officials examined a plan to allow Allen and the heads of other offices to negotiate their own cleaning contracts, but such an option is unlikely.
"We calculated that out and it seems to be a little high per square foot," he said. "It's higher than what we're paying now. Financially, that option may be prohibitive."
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