Warren hires street sweepers for one-year pilot program

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published July 25, 2015


WARREN — Mayor Jim Fouts said he agrees with the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

That said, the city has committed to finding out whether it can save money and keep its streets tidy through a one-year pilot program with a sweeping contractor.

Members of the Warren City Council voted 6-0 July 14 to approve the agreement with Warren-based C & J Parking Lot Sweeping for an amount not to exceed $100,560. The deal came after Warren Mayor Jim Fouts vetoed an extendable three-year $603,360 plan previously approved by the council.

“Let’s do a pilot program and see how it works,” Fouts said earlier this month. “I’m concerned about changing from city employees to private employees. I’m a little concerned about some of the specifics.

“I’m willing to give this a try and see how they can do, but I really haven’t had any major complaints from people about street sweeping. I wasn’t convinced that this was the proper solution, but the overwhelming majority of the council and the sanitation director felt it could save the city money,” Fouts said.

Gus Ghanam, superintendent of Warren’s sanitation division, said the cost of the one-year program would cover Warren’s remaining two sweeps in 2015. He said the city has completed one full sweep and that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality mandates a total of three in each calendar year.

The city is seemingly at a street-sweeping crossroads. Of Warren’s five sweepers, one was sent to auction and another is “on life support.”

“There’s a powerful argument that it’s going to save us hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Ghanam said of the potential benefits of contracting for the service. “It’s over a million dollars to buy new sweepers, or see if privatization works. The decision will be made by the mayor and City Council.”

Council member Kelly Colegio, who was unable to attend the meeting July 14 and thus did not cast a vote on the pilot program recommendation, said she has been asked to sit on a panel to examine the data and determine if outsourcing street sweeping would, in fact, save money.

“I do wish they would have come to us sooner,” Colegio said. “Hopefully everyone can evaluate it and sit down with the correct data and move forward from there.”

Colegio and Fouts said residents with questions or concerns about street sweeping operations should contact the mayor’s office directly at (586) 574-4520.