FLINT, MI — More jobs that have been held for decades by city workers could soon be headed to the private sector.
On the heels of confirming that the city lockup will be reopened and run by a private firm, Flint emergency manager Michael Brown said he intends to outsource waste collection, the senior centers and janitorial services.
The city is soliciting proposals from companies for all three of those areas, but no awards have been decided, he said.
“We’re coming up with alternative ways of delivering services,” Brown said Thursday in an interview in a conference room in the mayor’s department at Flint City Hall.
The move to more outsourcing is the latest in a series of budget cutting moves Brown has made since Gov. Rick Snyder appointed him to take over Flint in December.
The city’s four public golf courses were outsourced in March — three to a private contractor and one to a nonprofit.
Other emergency managers around the state also have privatized services, such as busing in Detroit public schools, water and sewer operations in Pontiac and ambulance services in Ecorse.
More outsourcing in Flint could lead to more job cuts in the ranks of city workers.
The city has already sent out 98 layoff notices across numerous city departments this month in preparation for the 2013 budget cuts that are set to take effect when the new fiscal year begins July 1.
“It’s all part of the balanced budget (which is posted online),” Finance Director Jerry Ambrose said in a written statement. “Tough times call for tough choices to be made.”
Those layoffs are expected to save the city between $9 million and $10 million.
There are no estimates yet on how much the latest outsourcing moves would save the city or how many more positions would be affected.
Already, 54 positions are being cut in the city’s “infrastructure” areas of service, which include water and sewer operations; waste collection; street maintenance and engineering; parks; community and economic development; facilities maintenance; and fleet.
The emergency manager said city unions would also be able to submit bids for the services when applicable.
“We’re hoping it would involve better services for citizens,” Brown said. “Where our people can bid on these things to provide the service, they can.”
Don Lewis, president of the city supervisors union, AFSCME Local 1799, said he hopes his members will have the opportunity to review the bids first, and then submit comparable proposals.
He said it would save the city time and money to allow workers who already have the experience in those departments to provide the service when possible.
In the past, union members were allowed to review the bids and could submit proposals within 5 percent of the lowest bid and still be considered for the job, he said.
“I don’t know (if we can do) that yet,” he said. “Let’s keep people in house who already know those areas. It’s a smoother transition and seems like it would be less cost to the city and less hassle to the people trying to train them.”
A request for proposals for waste collection has been posted on the city’s website, and calls for a three-year contract. It also encourages vendors to hire city workers when possible.
“These private contractors shall provide, in a good workmanlike manner, the services called for and described herein which shall consist of all supervision, equipment, labor, and all other items necessary to provide the city with complete refuse collection, removal and disposal,” it says.