Geneva aldermen OK price hike in cleaning contract in 6-4 vote

Kaven: ‘I’m not sure this is worth the aggravation … if we can’t find someone else to do it’

GENEVA – In a 6-4 split vote Nov. 15, Geneva aldermen approved a request from its building cleaning company to increase its cost by 10% for the last five months of its contract due to increased staffing and supplies costs.

The cost will go up by $694.03 to $7,634.31 a month, up from $6,940.28 a month. The cost of the increase over five months is $3,470.15, officials said.

The company, Citywide Building Maintenance of Itasca, has cleaned the police department, finance department, city hall, public works and TriComm for six years, Building Commissioner Eric Nelson said.

“It was between trying to find help – with labor costs – and supplies,” Nelson said. “They supply plastic bags, all paper products, everything.”

Citywide had a 2018 contract for cleaning services that was renewed in 2020, City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins said. TriComm pays its share of the cleaning contract, she said.

The city will go out for bid in another month or so for next fiscal year when the contract is up in April, Nelson said.

Aldermen dug in on the split over the cleaning company’s request. Some said agreeing to pay more sets a precedent. Others worried that if they didn’t approve the increase, Citywide might exercise its right to terminate the contract on 10 days’ notice.

“I look at contracts as contracts,” 5th Ward Alderman Robert Swanson said. “To me, it’s a gamble that they made that they’re going to be able to fulfill the contract for a two-year period. And their recourse – in my mind – is they get to rebid it when it expires in five months.”

Swanson said many businesses are facing supply and staffing problems, but the city is not unilaterally redoing its contracts because of market conditions.

But 4th Ward Alderman Gabriel Kaven cautioned against risking the company’s 10-day termination right that could leave the city without a cleaning service.

“It’s possible we may not have somebody to provide services for a handful of months,” Kaven said.

“I don’t know if this has the possibility of causing additional headaches for the next three or four months if they choose to submit the 10-day [termination] and walk away,” Kaven said. “But this is only for four to five months to make sure that the service is still getting completed. … I’m not sure this is worth the aggravation to the city if we can’t find someone else to do it.”

First Ward Alderman Michael Bruno said without going into the company’s books, there is no way to know how their finances are.

“I expect – yes, indeed – their supplies, their expenses have gone up,” Bruno said. “Any cleaning company’s supplies are going to be more expensive.”

Bruno said he would like to respect the integrity of the contract, but he wanted to maintain the continuity of the cleaning service.

“This close to rebidding, I’d vote for the increase,” Bruno said.

Second Ward Alderman Richard Marks said if the company had decreased costs, would they come and offer a 10% cut in its rate to the city.

“They entered into the contract,” Marks said. “They knew the repercussions of it at the time.”

Aldermen voting in favor of Citywide’s request were Kaven, Bruno, 3rd Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg, 2nd Ward Alderman Bradley Kosirog, 4th Ward Alderman Amy Mayer and 5th Ward Alderman Craig Maladra.

Voting no were Marks, Swanson, 1st Ward Alderman Tara Burghart and 3rd Ward Alderman Becky Hruby.