York County officials say privatizing custodial work could save taxpayers about $500,000 annually.
An outspoken critic says such a move would be “devastating” to the 32 full-time workers who work each day to keep at least 10 county buildings in Rock Hill, York and Fort Mill sanitary and secure.
York County Manager Bill Shanahan confirmed this week the county has solicited and received proposals for privatization of the custodians and janitors employed by the county.
The proposals are now being reviewed by a selection committee made up of county personnel. Shanahan said he expects to give a presentation at the next regularly scheduled York County Council on Monday.
Shanahan said it’s possible such a move could save $500,000-750,000 each year. He stressed he has not yet made a recommendation to Council.
“You can’t not look at that kind of savings,” Shanahan said. “You have to take a look at it. As a county manager, you look at good ideas and bad ideas. What you don’t do is not look at it, because if there’s an economic downturn, or we’re looking at raising millage rates, and there was a chance to save money and we didn’t look at it, we would have no good excuse.”
Alan Hisey, husband of one of York County’s custodians, said his wife and her colleagues were called into a short meeting last week to be told their jobs were suddenly up for bid. He said his wife did not want to speak.
You can’t not look at that kind of savings. You have to take a look at it.
York County Manager Bill Shanahan
There was no help offered to retrain or retain those positions, Hisey’s wife told him. The couple live on her income and health insurance, Hisey said, and have custody of two grandchildren.
Hisey said he quit his job to take care of the grandchildren full-time, and it would be hard for him to find a job with health insurance.
If his wife were to lose her job, Hisey said, it would be hard to recover.
“My wife is tremendous,” he said. “(She’s) been there for four years, so she’s not close to retirement, but if someone will lose the opportunity to retire from York County, it’s devastating to lose that if you’ve been working hard for years.”
If new private custodians are brought in, they’ll go through the same intensive training and preparation as the current workers see now, including information to respect confidential information in offices or on desks.
Shanahan said if a private company is brought forward, current custodians would be given the right to first refusal for a position.
If new custodians are brought in, he said, they’ll go through the same intensive training and preparation as the current workers see now. He said it is important all custodians — public or private employees — are taught to respect confidential information in offices or on desks.
Saving the taxpayers’ money while providing a high level of service is critical to local government, Shanahan said.
“The goal is to be as efficient as possible,” he said. “We’ve been given numbers we’ll review. I’m not saying we’ll do it, but we’re going through the numbers.”
500,000 York County Manager Bill Shanahan says it’s possible that privatizing custodial work in York County could save taxpayers $500,000 annually
Hisey argues he doesn’t know what the custodians may have a right to refuse.
“Maybe an $8 an hour with no benefits?” he said. “What do they have the right to refuse or to get? Will they qualify for unemployment? I don’t know.”