Monday, April 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Fairfield awards landscaping contracts to new companies

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From page A9 | December 04, 2013 | 3 Comments

FAIRFIELD — City Council members voted Tuesday to end the landscape contract with low bidder TruGreen LandCare Inc. of Fairfield and award a $190,080 pact to New Image Landscape Company of Fremont.

TruGreen’s $134,280 bid to maintain the Linear Bike Trail, which runs through the city to Solano Community College, was the lowest, but the city cited problems it said have arisen with TruGreen. Public Works Director George Hicks in a July letter to TruGreen wrote that Bermuda grass along the bike trail did not appear to have been sprayed and would take multiple herbicide applications to control.

The letter, which cited other problems, also recounted issues with TruGreen’s separate contract for Air Base Parkway landscape maintenance. The council on Tuesday rejected the company’s $138,000 low bid for that work and awarded the contract to Dominguez Landscape Services Inc. of Sacramento. A total of five companies bid on each of the two contracts.

George Guynn Jr., president of the Central Solano Citizen-Taxpayer Group, said before the council votes that the city should consider volunteers to maintain landscaping and suggested the council donate its pay and labor to aid that effort.

“It seems to always be the taxpayer who has to fork over more money,” he said.

Council actions Tuesday follow the Nov. 21 council meeting when Hicks said plummeting bids by contractors for landscaping work meant prices so low they weren’t close to covering expenses. Contractors 10 years ago had crews that knew the area but large companies now send different workers who may have to use Google maps to find landscaping sites, he had said. Fairfield is experiencing a dramatic increase in overgrown, stressed, dying and dead landscaping in various areas, Hicks said.

Jodi Adams, community association manager for the Rancho Solano Homeowners Association, supported awarding the contracts to new companies. Existing problems include overwatering of St. Andrews Drive where water pooled and weeds were growing in the street, she said.

Fairfield began outsourcing some landscaping in the early 1990s and in 2004 decided to contract for all such work.

Councilman John Mraz said the city staff determined that it would cost $750,000 a year to add 10 landscape workers – a cost that excludes supervision and equipment, he said. Mraz has said suggestions that Fairfield return to having city employees maintain landscaping are financially impractical.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or rmccarthy@dailyrepublic.net.

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Discussion | 3 comments

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  • CD BrooksDecember 04, 2013 - 6:30 am

    This doesn't fall directly to the contractors, but they do have to be managed. The city has to promote qualified Landscape Inspectors to oversee the work.

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  • Rick WoodDecember 04, 2013 - 6:58 am

    It would take 10 city workers to replace this contract?

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  • Rick WoodDecember 04, 2013 - 10:33 am

    That was a rhetorical question. Of course it wouldn't. I didn't watch the meeting, so I don't know what point Mr. Mraz was trying to make. But the point the Council SHOULD consider is value for the cost. Let's say it takes a full-time 3-person contract crew to maintain the Linear Park. Assuming "full-time" for a contract worker is 2,000 hours per year, that's 6,000 hours per year of work for $190,000, or $32/hour. I’m going to assume "full-time" for city workers, because of better paid absence benefits, is 1,900 hours per year. So let's take the $750,000 per year figure for 10 city workers, add 10% for supervision and 25% for equipment and supplies, and we can calculate their cost at $53/hour. Now, the question is, what’s the difference in value? I’ve said in these comments before that an experienced, well-supervised and managed city crew can deliver 25% more work with 100% greater quality, setting aside all the other things city workers do for a community. Is it worth 66% greater cost per hour? It depends on how much you care about the city assets being maintained; whether you want that big boost in quality. I do for city parks, landscape, and street trees. But of course the next problem is finding the funds. My personal preference is a city-wide maintenance district that takes city green space away from the general fund, mostly because it avoids a fight with the police and fire departments, which now consume over 75% of the general fund. I’d fight that fight, but I’m afraid it might be pretty lonely.

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