North Miami Beach City Council members voted 5-2 Tuesday night to request new bids to outsource the city’s sanitation department after formally rejecting a proposal that had been in the works for two years.
Council members Phyllis Smith and Frantz Pierre dissented — insisting that savings could be found in other ways.
“Definitely outsourcing brings money, but let’s outsource something small. Let’s outsource maybe the theatre or the library,” said Smith.
With a shortfall of $3 million projected for next year’s budget, council member Marlen Martell said she would not approve of any proposal that did not bring savings of at least $1 million.
“We’ve had meetings with staff and asked is there any way to save $2 million, and the truth is, is that it’s a nickel here, a dime there, but it’s not the amount we need to put back into our city. If what needs to happen is another RFP to find those savings again. I hope they will be there again, ” said Martell.
An RFP, or request for proposal, is a formal invitation to companies to offer their best prices for a service.
Council member Anthony DeFillipo, who proposed the resolution, said he wanted to give the city’s sanitation union another chance to negotiate a new contract that would save the city money without outsourcing its workers’ jobs.
Mayor George Vallejo and council members DeFillipo, Martell, Barbara Kramer and Beth Spiegel voted in favor of seeking new bids, and warned that the city’s credibility was at stake.
“I have a serious concern that we are playing games here,” Vallejo said. “If we go out to bid and then not vote to outsource, then this process makes us look like laughingstocks. If we get a contract with a savings of $2 million-plus, I don’t even want to know who it is, I’m voting yes.”
Spiegel said enough savings could be squeezed out of the current sanitation department budget without outsourcing, and blamed the city manager for not doing so.
“Quite frankly, I’m throwing in the towel,” she said. “I don’t understand why we don’t change our routes or why we don’t take one truck per day off. Simple things.”
In other business, the Uleta and Washington Park city swimming pools will be closed over the Fourth of July weekend. City Manager Ana Garcia said that after conducting a pre-summer maintenance check, they found dangerous electrical issues.
“I would rather close two pools than risk anyone getting electrocuted,” Garcia said. “I rejected a half-million-dollar estimate for repairs, so for now we’re working on getting a van to pick up residents from the closed pools out there and transporting them to Victory Park pool near government center over the weekend.”
Also Tuesday, the council voted 7-0 to amend site plans for the property at 15801 Biscayne Blvd. The revised plans will allow for the construction of three three-story buildings instead of three two-story buildings. The project also will have 13 more parking spaces than previously proposed.
Currently, there is one newly constructed, fully occupied, two-story professional office building on the site. The resolution, which reduces the square footage of the development, would leave part of the property available for development as a mixed-use project.
The owner, Biscayne 18 Development LLC, wants to set aside the rest of the property for a different configuration, which has not been determined yet.