In West Bloomfield Township, it’s no longer a question of whether there are savings to be had by privatizing city services. Now the question has become: How much can be saved by pushing the private contractors to compete against one another?
The township recently saw its annual janitorial bill go from $43,000 to $18,900 through a competitive bid process. That 56 percent reduction came after dropping the private contractor that had been doing the service and hiring another one.
By contrast, using a public employee for the job would have cost much more. Joe Munem, West Bloomfield’s deputy clerk, said an entry-level job, with benefits, working for the township costs taxpayers $52,342 a year.
“The cost of hiring government employees to do this job was simply too expensive,” said West Bloomfield Township Trustee Larry Brown in a press release. “Seeking competitive bids has once again proven to be the best bet for our taxpayers to realize value for their money. Continuing to use outside services saves taxpayers from incurring future long-term legacy costs.”
Township Clerk Catherine Shaughnessy said janitorial service was just one recent example of how a more aggressive privatization approach has saved money. Shaughnessy pushed township officials to tell a local car wash under contract for providing washes for township vehicles that if a less expensive deal wasn’t offered, another vender would be found.
The township negotiated a better deal for $9,000 less per year. The new deal, which covers 150 vehicles, costs $10,080 per year.
“Times are tough and we have to save money anyway we can,” Shaughnessy said in a press release. “We have imposed nine unpaid furlough days on our employees and have cut many items out of the budget altogether. How could we justify nearly $20,000 a year on car washes in this kind of economy?”
Shaughnessy said everything is being reviewed, noting that the township saved $500 by not having automatic everyday pick-up by Federal Express. Now, the township makes a phone call for pick-up.
“It was amazing to me how easily we spent money,” Shaughnessy said. “If you just sit back and let them raise you every year, then they will.”