SCRANTON -- Did the city of Scranton hire a cleaning company for police headquarters the proper way?
City officials appear to have ignored their own rules to give the cleaning contract to the family of two Scranton police officers.
Twice a week, cleaning crews head into Scranton Police headquarters to clean. The city contracts out the work and in January paid View Klensing (previously Uher Klensing) a lump sum of more than $12,000 to do the job for six months.
The contract also includes bathrooms and glass doors at Scranton City Hall. Scrub a little deeper, you'll find the way officials gave View Klensing the job doesn't jive with Scranton's own rules for bidding out contracts.
"It appears that the bidding procedures are now being used in a manipulative way to make sure a certain contract ends up awarded to a preferred vendor," said attorney Chris Cullen of Scranton.
Cullen points out the city needed to secure at least three quotes in order to award the contract to the cleaning company. The city only got one quote.
Newswatch 16 obtained the three letters the city sent last September to cleaning companies asking for bids. The only one to respond was View Klensing, owned and operated by the family of two members of the police department.
The company had the contract several years ago but was outbid in 2015.
Current Scranton Solicitor Jessica Boyles said she handled the bids as Human Resources Director.
While Boyles would have liked the sole bid of $12,480 to come in lower, it was the only quote she got back and, according to her, could not be negotiated.
The previous cleaning company charged $9,600 for six months which amounts to roughly $3,000 less than the new contract. But C.C. Cleaning was not included in the latest bidding process.
"It`s lucrative for the company that got awarded the bid. That`s excessive, that charge sounds excessive," said the owner of one of the two cleaning companies that chose not to respond to the city's request for a quote.
He didn't want to be identified, but said for a contract to clean 8,000 square feet twice a week for six months, his company would have charged no more than $20 per hour.
"You`d be at $6,000 for the six months, not $12,480. To me that`s a lot of taxpayer money being wasted," the company's owner added.
Since Scranton didn't try more than once to get the three quotes it needed, Cullen feels the city chose to make up the rules as it went.
"It costs more money, time, and effort to manipulate the bidding process to get a contract to a preferred vendor than it takes to simply do it the right way," said the attorney.
In fact, the city's solicitor tells Newswatch 16 she sought quotes from two cleaning companies which had bid in the past and used an internet search to find the third located more than a half-hour away.
Boyles said she never expected the quote to exceed $19,400 for the year which requires a public bidding process. But two years ago, the same company that charges more than $12,000 now bid nearly just shy of $10,000 for the same half-year period. Do the math, and that is more than $19,400 for the year.
"Seriously, Scranton, this is not OK," said Jim Bosha who pays taxes in Scranton and runs the snarky Twitter account, Seriously Scranton.
When we told him about the cleaning contract, Bosha called it a "sweet deal," one that seemingly would have attracted anyone inclined to make nearly $25,000 a year for 8 days of work a month.
"There was barely an attempt, a ham-fisted attempt to mask this," Bosha said.
After Newswatch 16 uncovered the apparent mishandling of the cleaning contract, Scranton officials said the cleaning contract that would start in July will now have to go out to public bid.