Buffalo Grove outsourcing more public works tasks

In the wake of several employee retirements, Buffalo Grove is restructuring its public works department's forestry and fleet services divisions, and outsourcing some of their duties.

Village trustees on Monday approved three contracts to outsource tree trimming, maintenance of fire vehicles and snow removal from the village campus and Pace/Metra commuter parking lots.

Village Purchasing Manager Brett Robinson said the contracts represent an attempt to contain costs while maintaining services.

However, trustees indicated they would keep close watch on whether the moves result in savings.

The first contract approved was with Advanced Tree Care for up to $120,000. Robinson said the agreement would cover routine maintenance and spot trimming services, with village staff continuing to handle emergency trimming due to such causes as storms.

The second agreement with Fire Service Inc. covers fire fleet maintenance for up to $175,000. Robinson cited the firm's history of performing warranty work on village vehicles and the possibility of "concierge service" that will save on staff time.

The third contract, a deal with Snow Systems not to exceed $110,000, is for snow removal at municipal parking lots. Robinson said the firm also is open to offering its drivers for village snow routes if the public works department has driver shortages due to illness.

"What's the alternative if they cannot do that?" Trustee Eric Smith asked.

"Overtime," Village Manager Dane Bragg replied. "This is the only vendor that was willing to provide this service."

Among those quizzing Robinson about savings was Trustee Lester Ottenheimer III, who noted in the discussion of tree trimming that the village has been outsourcing services more frequently.

"I want to hear some magic words that this is saving us money by doing it this way," he said.

"Yes, I can say that," Robinson replied in regards to the tree maintenance.

Trustee David Weidenfeld requested that the board receive regular updates on whether savings are achieved.

Five public works employees, including Public Works Director Michael Reynolds, are retiring through the village's Voluntary Separation Incentive program. The program, which offers additional benefits to employees who retire early, is a cost-cutting measure expected to save the village about $1 million in next year's budget, officials say.

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