Written by MARK JAEGER
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 17:27
Highway Department loses rural work because of contract requirement
Town of Saukville officials gave the green light last week to the use of a private contractor for routine road maintenance and are poised to take the concept much further.
The Town Board backed the use of Jim’s Maintenance Service to perform as much as $8,000 worth of ditch and shoulder work along town roads.
Based on the limited budget, supervisors said, the priority should be given to ditches along asphalt roads.
If there is money left, work will then be done on gravel roads unless nearby residents ask that the shoulders be left alone.
Jim’s Maintenance is expected to be one of the contractors interested in the town’s snow-plowing business.
The town is requesting proposals for snow plowing on a four-month trial basis that would run from Jan. 1 to May 1. Bids are due Oct. 9 and will be considered at the board’s Oct. 15 meeting.
Town officials have been critical of the amount they are charged for plowing by the Ozaukee County Highway Department, and are hopeful that turning to a private contractor will result in a financial windfall.
Most concerning to the town is the county’s plan to switch to guaranteed-work contracts, which would ensure the town will pay the county approximately $128,000 a year for road work — whether that involves plowing or maintenance.
The proposal pushed the town into considering private contractors for all road work.
“I would say it will all come down to what is the most cost efficient for us,” Town Chairman Barb Jobs said.
“We should be able to make a decision at our October meeting, whether we go private or stick with the county.”
Officials say the Town of Port Washington’s switch to a private company for snow plowing shows that there are less expensive options available.
“If we can get the same level of service for less money, why wouldn’t we consider it?” Jobs asked.
She said the availability of private contractors willing to do work previously considered the domain of county crews also raises questions about the role of government.
“I have gone on record as saying I do not feel government should be competing with private enterprise,” Jobs said.