York County’s 32 full-time custodians are breathing easier for now, thanks to a decision made earlier this week by the county council.
Council decided Monday to reject a move to consider bids to privatize custodial work in county buildings, deciding instead to implement new accountability measures.
County officials had solicited and received proposals for privatization of the custodians and janitors, who work each day to keep at least 10 county buildings in Rock Hill, York and Fort Mill sanitary and secure.
County manager Bill Shanahan said he needed to explore the option, which he said could possibly save the county about $500,000 annually. But the council decided against pursuing the bids during an executive session at Monday’s meeting, Shanahan said.
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Instead, Shanahan said the county has created training programs, a manual and a checklist to make sure all tasks are completed to a correct standard and on time.
“We started a process to get the custodians at the level of quality that we want them at,” Shanahan said. “In the past, we’ve had no policies, no procedures or training to show the facilities were clean at the level they should be. Now it will make us more efficient and save money.”
Alan Hisey, an outspoken critic of the bids, is the husband of a York County custodian. He said his wife was told at a recent meeting they would promote four employees to “working supervisors” and revisit the matter in about six months.
He said his wife did not want to speak on the record. The couple live on her income and health insurance, Hisey said. Alan quit his job to take care of two grandchildren full time.
“I’m certainly glad it’s going this direction,” Hisey said. “What’s a little upsetting is they’ll revisit this in six months. Certainly everybody’s relieved, though.”
If a private company is brought forward, Shanahan said last week, 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.”