Emotions run high at council meeting

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 2, 2002


LAPLACE – There were insults and apologies, a motion passed and a committee formed to review contracts at a recent St. John the Baptist Parish Council meeting.

Tension was thick with questions raised by District 3 Councilman Richard Dale Wolfe about the intentions of other council members and the administration during negotiations over a janitorial services contract. In an address to the council, Wolfe said he was disappointed in the administration for its reaction to having the janitorial contracts back on the council agenda.

“I was hoping I could work with this administration, but at this point I’m so disgusted,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe told the council he would like to see a committee of council members formed to sit down and work out the negotiation of contracts for janitorial services for East Bank and West Bank Parish offices.

“We have been dealing with the issue for months now,” District 7 Councilman Steve Lee said about the contract negotiations.

Councilman Duaine Duffy added, “It is not something we should rehash and rebid over and over.”

According to several council members, the bids for the contracts were very low. Rebid three times, the negotiations took about six months to complete, council members said. During negotiations, One Touch Janitorial Service was selected to service parish offices on the East Bank at a cost of $2,902 per month.

The estimate covered janitorial work at the Percy Hebert Building, the warehouse office, public works building, the Recreation Department trailer, the Senior Citizens Center, Arcuri Center, the Elm Street office, the service center and the utilities office in Garyville.

BB’s Janitorial Service was selected to service the West Bank facilities for $2,871 per month. The courthouse building in Edgard, the Agriculture Center in Edgard and the West Bank Senior Citizen Center were included in the estimate to BB’s.

Both contracts stipulated the companies be able to “furnish all materials, cleaning solvents, waxes, machinery, equipment, labor, supervision,” as well as “two-ply white toilet tissue, brown hand towels, trash bags, urinal blocks and hand soap.” In addition, the companies would be required to maintain comprehensive general liability insurance and statutory worker’s compensation.

Wolfe said the contracts should not be as concerned with how low the costs for janitorial services could go, but on helping businesses and keeping business local.

“It’s a professional service contract,” Wolfe said. “We can choose whoever we want to (not just the lowest proposals). You don’t want to choose someone and then run them out of business.”

Wolfe said he spoke with representatives of both companies about the contracts and he is not convinced the payments would be enough to allow the companies to continue to operate. The council members agreed to form a committee to review the contracts and investigate the councilman’s concerns.

Wolfe ended the heated discussion of contracts with an apology to Lee for a statement made suggesting that Lee was “sleeping” during earlier discussions of janitorial contracts.

Lee said he accepted the apology and joked at times he would like to sleep through some of Wolfe’s discussions.