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County Eliminates 15 Jobs, Outsourcing Janitorial Contract Commissioners Had Saved in 2015

| February 5, 2018

This time County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen voted with the majority to eliminate the county's custodial jobs, unlike three years ago, when he opposed the move. A private contractor will be responsible for cleaning some 50 county facilities such as the Government Services Building, above. (© FlaglerLive)

This time County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen voted with the majority to eliminate the county’s custodial jobs, unlike three years ago, when he opposed the move. A private contractor will be responsible for cleaning some 50 county facilities such as the Government Services Building, above. (© FlaglerLive)

Almost three years ago when Flagler County government’s administration proposed eliminating 15 janitorial jobs and privatizing the work through a contractor then-Commissioner Barbara Revels stepped in and stopped the deal. She said the projected savings–$173,000 a year—was not worth county employees losing their jobs and benefits, even if they were getting a 50-cent-an-hour raise: the raise would not make up for lost benefits for what Revels termed “the lowest-paid employees that we have.”


County Administrator Craig Coffey at the time argued that the janitorial staff had been suffering from “tremendous turnover,” causing the administration constantly to be searching for new workers, carrying our background checks. At the timer there were 15 janitorial positions, the highest paid coming in at $26,400, all but one of the rest making under $10 an hour. Revels prevailed.

This time, however, Barbara Revels was not there to save the jobs, and even Commissioner Charlie Ericksen, who’d joined her three years ago in the vote to keep the jobs in-house, opted to outsource in a 5-0 vote. The only commissioner still on the panel now who voted then was Nate McLaughlin: he’s voted both times to outsource.

Fifteen positions, one of them part-time, will be eliminated. Laid-off employees will get two months’ severance, longer if they’ve been with the county more than three years, as seven have, and four months’ health insurance benefits. A 16th position will be preserved as the janitor will be keeping a job by moving to the county airport, which will maintain its in-house janitorial approach. The county is not requiring the new contractor to hire existing janitors, only asking that they be granted interviews. One janitor is taking a job with the new company. Another is retiring.

The contract will go to the same company that administration had lined up almost three years ago: American Janitorial, an Illinois-based company with regional franchises. American Janitorial was the only bidder for the $485,000-a-year contract, which will remain at that level the first and second year than incur cost of living raises. The company will be responsible for cleaning 50 county facilities.

Coffey projects annual cost savings of $115,000 per year, not counting additional savings since American Janitorial will not use county vehicles, cell phones, uniforms and the like, and the county will also save time and resources by not having to interview for the jobs or contend with the absence of janitors due to illness or other issues.

“I was against it if you are displacing county workers and putting somebody pout of a job,” George Mayo, who attends most county meetings, told commissioners this morning before the vote. He had requested the item be pulled off the consent agenda for discussion. The commission was not planning on discussing the layoffs or the contract until Mayo’s move, which mirrored Revels’s three years ago: then, too, the American Janitorial contract had been placed on the consent agenda—the portion of the agenda that’s approved in bulk without discussion, and where many items the administration would rather not discuss more than it has to find themselves, though it only takes a citizen’s or a commissioner’s request to pull the items for discussion.

“Our staff report stands as submitted,” Coffey told Greg Hansen, the commission chairman, when asked about the contract, his defensiveness perhaps reflecting a here-we-go-again memory of the Revels reversal. But after Hansen proved the new contract’s defender, Coffey loosened up.

“If you’re putting somebody out of a job and now they can’t find a job, they go on welfare or something else, that costs money too,” Mayo said.

 “Those jobs are really entry level jobs,” Hansen said. “They don’t pay very much. There is some cost savings but more importantly, the way it’s structured now, we’re really not getting the job done. We’re not cleaning our carpets, we’re not waxing our floors because we don’t have the people to do that. So by doing this we’re going to take better care of our capital investment and that’s these buildings.” He added: “This is very necessary, something we have to do.”

As he did in August 2015, Coffey spoke about the burden of turn-over. “We’re down four positions now,” he said, “but we’re effectually down more positions when you get workman’s comp or you get maternity leave and other things like that, and those buildings still have to be cleaned, and we’re still not getting to the carpet cleaning and some of the other things that we think this contract will add to our overall scheme as far as what we want to do.”

The county administration has been trying to find work for the janitors elsewhere in the organization, as in the transportation department, driving buses. In one case, a custodian was placed in an administrative, office job. That that didn’t work out. The worker preferred being a custodian.

As for American Janitorial, Heidi Petito, the county’s facilities director, said it’s been vetted: “We had looked at this company several years ago, we had contacted all of their references,” Petito said. “Moving forward they’ve actually increased their size substantially and taken on a lot more government contracts.”

The American Janitorial Contract (2018)

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20 Responses for “County Eliminates 15 Jobs, Outsourcing Janitorial Contract Commissioners Had Saved in 2015”

  1. RickG says:

    Privatization of janitorial jobs is the work of those who wish to lower the income of already under paid employees. Add in the reduction of benefits it fits nicely into those people who advocate the increase in income separation. What Flagler County needs is a good union for those workers.

  2. Phil Prevatt says:

    Figured the county will loose that many employees at a cost that is a drop in the bucket for County budgets. Maybe we ask Palm Coast to pay for their police services instead of the county and save millions. They can afford fire protection but not police protection.

  3. Robert Lewis says:

    Thank You Commissioner MacLaughlin

  4. gmath55 says:

    The highest paid $26,400 per year! Well, there’s your problem Skippy. Did paying more money ever cross these commissioners mind? You projected a saving of $173,000 per year and you can’t give the 15 janitorial positions more then $10 per hour! What a bunch of cheap commissioners. BTW. I’m retired and I make more then $26,400 per year with social security and two pensions.

  5. DRedder says:

    Come on Phil get your head out of the sand. The residents of Palm Coast pay twice for police services. Like all of the county property owners they pay a portion of thier county tax for law enforcement. Then they thru city tax pay approximately 3.3 million extra.

  6. Trumpster says:

    Instead of eliminating a bunch of low paying jobs, we should eliminate a few high paying jobs. This thought would never occur and certainly would never be implemented by the Republican Idiots running our country. Second thought, how about addressing “Consulting Fees and Contracts”, we spend millions each year and get little or no benefit. Most of the Consultants work product could be produced by eight graders who are not friends or relatives of the high ranking county executives pushing these contracts.

  7. Rich says:

    Wow…..$26,400 a year and $10.00 an hour. Must live in a palace. Get serious. Maybe they should run for a Comissioner position. If that is the best you can pay these people with the fat in your budget…shame on you. This is why living iand working in a right to work state does not pay.It should be called a yes master state.

  8. David S. says:

    How about finding all of these people new jobs. I agree they needed a union but in Fla no damn way….

  9. palmcoaster says:

    I totally agree with Rick above…Laying off employees that made peanuts and hour, just because they transformed these southern states into “Right to Work States” yeah right for workers to be screwed big time over greed without their unions defending them. Shame and out with these yesers FCBOCC next elections and their manager!

  10. Anonymous says:

    These are great people that are loosing their jobs. Shame on the commissioners for not taking better care of our people!

  11. John Walsh says:

    Are these jobs eliminated or moved to the private sector and awarded to a company based on free market value for services?

  12. gmath55 says:

    @ Dave S. – did you read the article? The county administration has been trying to find work for the janitors elsewhere in the organization, as in the transportation department, driving buses. In one case, a custodian was placed in an administrative, office job. That that didn’t work out. The worker preferred being a custodian.

  13. GeeGary says:

    Looks to me like some on the County payroll just don’t want to be held accountable for their shortcomings ?

  14. smarterthanmost says:

    You people can’t have it both ways. One minute you scream your tax dollars are being wasted, the next minute you cry “Shame on the commissioners for not taking better care of our people!”.

    Running the county is a business concern, and not all business decisions result in happy endings for everyone. This is a good move for the Flagler County tax payer, since the “government’s administration” can’t seem to manage their way out of a wet paper bag.

  15. just me says:

    Yup Pay the top few 100k 200K a year BUT screw the ones that make $1o0 bucks a hour. VOTE OUT ALL on this board.

  16. john Dolan says:

    There was a Union for county employees but anyone who had been in it was laid off. The County Commissioners at the time 2006 refused to sign the Union contract. I lost my job and I had seniority. The County dumped on a lot of good people.

  17. jim says:

    it seems to me that the average salary in Flagler for the basic working man is $10.00 an hour and has been for the past few years. SHAMEFUL!

  18. Lynn says:

    I don’t believe there was a RFP out there to bid on this project. I work for a program that has several custodial contracts that hire over 75% disabled. This is a win win situation. The companies get good quality work , the disabled population get an opportunity to work. They also don’t have to depend on the government to support them. I find it ironic that the future company could stay with a bid from 3 years ago. I do wish the current employees good luck with future jobs. We are always looking for good employees.

  19. good american says:

    FlaglerLive can you do an article on the salaries AND educational background of the 15 top highest paid county employees ? i think many readers would be surprised ….

  20. Anonymous says:

    Let them eat cake! 😉

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