KTBS has a good story up on the Bossier City Building maintenance brouhaha. In case you are not familiar with it, according to the article “Discrepancies have surfaced of three employees not being paid tens of thousands of dollars worth of overtime. Building maintenance director Charles DuBois has resigned and the city has agreed to pay the employees.”
That is bad enough in itself, but it appears to just be sympomatic of an endemic problem in the department. The City website describes the department thusly:
Department of Building Maintenance
This department is responsible for, but not limited to, in-house repair, renovation and maintenance of city owned buildings and other approved facilities. DBM also does the grounds keeping for the Municipal Complex and Civic Center.
This department employs electricians, heating and air conditioning technicians, carpenters, maintenance mechanics, laborers, locksmiths, and clerical personnel to meet the City's needs.
Yet despite having 6 full time employees and a budget of 1.8 million dollars, the city has already spend $200,000 this year on outside contractors.
District 3 councilman Don Williams has proposed that the city consider privatizing the entire department.
The mayor said that it is ‘too early’ to comment and that this would have to be covered in the budget talks this fall.
I contacted Councilman Williams and asked him just two questions:
1. Do you think the council will get behind you on this proposal?
2. In addition to increasing efficiency, do you think that the city would save money through privatization?
This was his response:
“I really believe this will get some traction by the council. I will start talking to other council members about going ahead and sending out RFP's so we can have an idea of contractor cost before the budget starts and then we can make an informed decision. I think we could definitely save anywhere from $500,000 to 1 million dollars a year. I have some ideas already on how to approach this situation.
I know the average person changes light bulbs in their house, unplugs toilets, fixes leaking faucets or changes toilets seats. I know I do everything I can to save a buck. This was the kind of stuff the city was paying contractors to do. As you can see I truly believe what I'm doing is the right thing. Not saying it will happen because I'm still looking into it and will do what's best for the city, but I will guarantee there will be changes in that department.
Really, if the Mayor would pull his head out of the sand and look at what is going on and take care of business, things like this would not occur.”
You will notice that I titled this ‘Part I’. The reason for that is simple; as this develops, for every question answered five more pop up. I am planning to look deep into the background of this situation and see how it was allowed to develop to the point that it has.
I’ll have more soon.