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Street sweeper's quality questioned
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A street sweeping contractor who once served the city publicly questioned the legitimacy of a new and lower proposal Monday evening from the firm that underbid him two years ago.

Rick Richardson of ABC Sweeping located just outside of Ceres questioned how Contract Sweeping Services (CSS) of Stockton could sweep city streets with just one truck when he was using two trucks to get the job done between 1991 and 2007.

"We always used two sweepers so I don't know how they do it," questioned Richardson.

A Ceres resident, Richardson also questioned the fairness of the Request for Proposal process, saying that the map of streets to be swept supplied by the city was not up to date nor complete and hinted that CSS may not be including all new streets.

He also questioned why the city stipulated that all street sweeping equipment to be used must be newer than five years old and wondered if CSS met that requirement. He noted that his bid was higher partially because he was factoring in the purchase of a newer sweeper. Richardson said his older equipment can do just as good of a job as a newer one.

City officials were unsure but believed that the equipment age requirement was probably due to Valley air district concerns about air quality and getting older diesel burning sweepers off the road.

Richardson left enough questions in the minds of councilmen to cause them to postpone giving Contract Sweeping another year of contract. They plan to resume talking about the issue next at the Oct. 26 council meeting.

CSS has been sweeping Ceres streets at a rate of $14.94 per curb mile, or $101,592 annually. The council decided to seek out new and possibly lower bids since the economy is more competitive. CSS lowered its current contract rate to $13.40 per curb mile, or $91,120 per year. ABC Sweeping was sweeping Ceres streets at a rate of $17.90 per curb mile, or $121,720 annually.

The next highest bidder was Clean Street of Gardena which submitted a bid of $21.41 per curb mile or $145,656 annually.

Public Works Director Phil Scott said CSS is doing a good job but that some complaints come in, mostly due to leaf pile issues. He stated that city staff does spot checks to ensure quality. But Councilman Ken Lane suggested he's seen debris and sand in the streets after the street sweeper rolls down his block. Lane noted he's glad that a one-year contract is being considered so the city can have a shorter time to keep check on the quality.

Ceres resident Ken Groves suggested that he'd rather see local firms hired. As one who has posted many campaign signs and walking neighborhoods for candidates, Groves commented that he's seen "some Ceres streets look clean and tidy and some don't look clean and tidy."

"We can do a better job," said Vice Mayor Chris Vierra. He suggested looking at the possibility of splitting the city into two contract areas and see which firm could do a better job.

Ceres streets are swept every other week, or 26 times a year. Annually the curb mileage swept equals about 6,800.