Cleaning firm tender is well below budget: Shire

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The Memorial Park toilets were subject to disgusting vandalism on Monday morning, with the mess cleaned within three hours.
Camera IconThe Memorial Park toilets were subject to disgusting vandalism on Monday morning, with the mess cleaned within three hours. Credit: Warren Hately

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River has hosed down claims a Perth cleaning firm was awarded its latest lucrative three-year contract despite cheaper tenders from local companies.

Instead, winning tenderer BrightMark was more than $200,000 below the Shire’s budget for the service.

The Shire drew upon WA Local Government Association expertise during the request for tender process to ensure all standards were followed after uproar three years ago when the same services were awarded to another Perth firm, OCE Corporate.

Acting Shire president Julia Meldrum told the Times the winning tender from BrightMark “came in well below budget and the other tenderers including the local providers” at $323,265 a year for three years.

The tender was more than $200,000 below the Shire’s budget for the contract at $531,000.

“We are vitally concerned about creating a regenerative local economy, but we are also charged with gaining ‘value for money’,” Cr Meldrum told the Times.

“Council has to get the best value for money for the ratepayers and unfortunately the local bids were higher, even giving them a price preference, which is allowed under the Local Government Act (competition legislation).

“This equates to a 10 per cent discount.”

The evaluation criteria included a 30 per cent focus on the tenderer’s resources, personnel and experience, and 30 per cent for relevant experience and demonstrated ability.

Eight companies in total bid for the contract.

Local operators voiced their outrage on social media last week, but many went to ground in response to Times inquiries, with several saying they feared repercussions for future tenders if they spoke out.

Margaret River Chamber of Commerce executive officer Rebecca Young said her group was still awaiting full details of the decision.

“The MRCCI advocates strongly for supporting local first and keeping dollars in the region, but at this stage, we do not know the facts around the decision and we respect that the Shire has a number of obligations that they must fulfil,” she said.

“We will be meeting with them next week and it’s on the agenda for discussion.”

Some operators said they felt it was now pointless seeking Shire contracts, that big firms had an advantage because they were well-practised at tenders, and some companies would no longer be viable in the face of competition from outside firms.

Margritz Cleaning owner Ryan Nielsen said he was shocked to learn the winning tender price, saying 90 per cent of any cleaner’s costs came from staff and all companies used the same wages award.

Mr Nielsen questioned how service levels could compare to other tenders when it came in more than $160,000 a year cheaper than his own bid.

But he stressed any bids closer to the Shire’s budgeted expectations did not mean those tenders were “expensive”.

“If a local company delivered the service we would see employment opportunities for existing local residents in Margaret River and Augusta rather than what has happened previously, with contractors bringing in new people to dilute the opportunities available to locals,” he said.

“Also of vital importance is a much greater recirculation of ratepayers money within the community.”

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