Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Winnebago County revamps landscaping bids amidst acquiring probe

As lawnmowers in Winnebago County emerge from a winterlong hibernation, the county is altering how it pays for trimming and landscaping services.


The modification comes amid a diverse FBI examination of county spending practices, which led the county to turn over files about its landscaping professional to authorities last fall.


For many years, the county has paid companies to cut and keep neat the yard and greenery outside the courthouse, jail and other management structures and parking lots. Not will the county pay suppliers a hourly rate for lawn mowing, stated Purchasing Director Roman Gray.


We're going to negotiate a flat charge with one of you, Gray told a roomful of landscaping professionals previously this month throughout a pre-bid meeting.


If the weather is dry, you will not have to trim as much, he stated. You'll get paid a flat quantity, either way, and the expense of your labor and materials will all be rolled into that.
The brand-new technique comes after Gray's predecessor, Sally Claassen, resigned amidst allegations that she spent more than $60,000 of taxpayer money on resort getaways and furnishings for her home. The FBI in August launched an examination of county monetary and buying operations. No one has been charged with a criminal offense.


The examination prompted the County Board to cancel its agreement with a Rockford landscaping contractor ADV Enterprises and administrators turned over billings, payroll documents and other records related to the county's company dealings with the firm. The county paid ADV about $160,000 last year for cutting and landscaping services.


The county will continue to pay a per hour rate for supplemental landscaping services such as tree and shrub positioning or renewal, stump grinding and miscellaneous clean-up. County Board member Gary Jury stated the new approach would minimize the quantity of documentation for Gray's department. Not will buying staff members need to inspect and accept myriad time sheets and invoices for landscaping work.


The new method likewise creates a reward for professionals who want the county's business to supply landscaping services as efficiently as possible to guarantee they get the low bid for the job, Gray stated.


"If you think of it from a company viewpoint, if somebody wants the low bid they need to figure out how they can do the job cheaply," Gray stated. "In the past, it might have been possible for the landscaper to tell the county we'll plant bushes for you and then they plant the kind of bushes that require great deals of maintenance because they're being paid by the hour to maintain landscaping.".

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