The City Council recently voted to sign off on awarding a trio of three-year public grounds maintenance contracts totaling $731,226 to a local landscaping and lawn care business.
Precision Cut is now authorized to maintain the grounds of 11 facilities or locations for $496,785, the Battleboro and Northeastern cemeteries for $131,589 and four low-lying areas or areas with boat ramps or water for $102,852.
The vote occurred during the Oct. 25 City Council regular meeting.
The action also came in the context of extensive discussion having occurred during the Oct. 11 council work session about wanting the Parks and Recreation Department to be able to do more in terms of maintaining the public grounds in the future.
City Manager Small-Toney during the Oct. 11 council work session made clear that, as far as increasing the skillset of Parks and Recreation employees, she believed the first step would be to come back to the council in January with what a higher level of service, managed internally, is going to cost.
Still, Small-Toney made clear her plan in the meantime was going to be to ask the council to approve the three-year contracts with Precision Cut to continue to help with maintaining the public grounds.
And Small-Toney made clear the contracts would include wording giving the ability to the municipal government to make changes, including to reduce Precision Cut’s service level.
Precision Cut had been continuing to work amid a month-to-month contract extension based on a previous contract.
During the Oct. 25 City Council regular meeting, Councilman Andre Knight was quick to note the discussion of Oct. 11 having been intense and there being a lot of concerns about the contracts and the Parks and Recreation employees and to note the municipal management saying they are going to bring back a plan in January.
Knight wanted to know whether, as the council waits for what is going to come from the municipal management, it would be wise to instead set the lengths of the contracts at one or two years.
Mayor Sandy Roberson, who chairs council regular meetings, said he would let Small-Toney answer that question, but Roberson said his recollection was that, regardless of the terms, the contracts could be broken within a 30-day notice.
Small-Toney said that would be correct because the requests for bids were issued with specific requirements and expectations.
“And so as I said, we could amend the contract once it’s awarded,” Small-Toney said. “But I think to go back now and change the requirements for the contract would negate it, in essence.”
“That answered my question, thank you,” Knight said, adding he has no problem.
Councilman Lige Daughtridge made the motion, seconded by Councilman Richard Joyner, for awarding the contracts to Precision Cut.
In a roll call vote, Knight and Councilmen Reuben Blackwell, W.B. Bullock and T.J. Walker voted yes.
Councilwoman Chris Miller was participating in the Oct. 25 council regular meeting via teleconferencing.
City Clerk Pamela Casey twice called Miller’s name, but an immediate response from Miller could not be heard.
After Roberson said the motion carried, Miller said, “I abstain.”
“Well, that’s a yes vote,” Roberson said.
“I made the point I think,” Miller said.
“Yes, you did,” Roberson said.
City Attorney Jep Rose said abstaining is an affirmative vote unless Miller had a recognized reason for declining to vote yes or no.
“Philosophical differences,” Miller said in response.
“OK, very well,” Roberson said. “The vote is in the affirmative. The motion carries.”
Precision Cut is a woman-owned business and the City of Rocky Mount strives to involve minority- and women-owned businesses in seeking contracts.
The contract with Precision Cut calls for maintaining the grounds at the following facilities or locations:
- The Douglas Block.
- City Hall.
- The Rocky Mount Senior Center.
- The Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences.
- The Rocky Mount Business Services Center.
- The Rocky Mount Event Center.
- The two Main Streets alongside the rail line.
- The Rocky Mount Judicial Center.
- The Helen P. Gay Rocky Mount Historic Train Station.
- The bus station.
- Station Square.
The contract with Precision Cut for maintaining low-lying areas or areas with boat ramps or water specifically lists the following locations:
- Holly Street Park.
- City Lake Park.
- The Tar River Reservoir boat ramp.
- The Sapony Creek boat ramp.
During the Oct. 11 council work session, Parks and Recreation Director Joel Dunn said his department did not have the people power to tend all of the municipal grounds in a timely manner and started looking at contracting out some of the work.
During the Oct. 11 council work session, Blackwell said he was not questioning either the intention or the work being done by Precision Cut.
Blackwell said, however, he was concerned the skill level of the contractor seemed to exceed, at least in Dunn’s confidence, the Parks and Recreation staff concerning key properties being contracted out.
During the Oct. 11 council work session, Knight said he believed it to be really sad when the municipality has to hire somebody from the outside to come in and beautify Rocky Mount.