Bids for Sudbury’s street sweeping contract are coming in hundreds of thousands of dollars higher than the city is paying now — but at least one city councillor is happy to pay more for better service.
"I honestly believe my 2 or 3 year-old could do a better job than the services we're getting from this company right now,” said Coun. Fabio Belli in a 2011 council meeting.
In the spring of that year, street sweeping rose to the top of the city council agenda, after complaints about clouds of dust and dirty windows came in from across Sudbury.
City staff argued against firing the contractor because its bid was $200,000 cheaper than the nearest competitor.
Staff hoped the inexperienced firm would eventually get the hang of street sweeping, but the complaints continued to come in every spring.
Greater Sudbury is about to select a new street sweeper for the next three years and, according to the bids, the bill for taxpayers will likely jump by about $300,000.
Belli said that's similar to what the contract has cost in the past.
"I'm not in favour of a bigger bill, but I've always said this before: cheap doesn't mean you're going to get a great product. Cheap means you get what you pay for, sometimes," he said in a recent interview.
Mayor Marianne Matichuk said she expects some tough questions when council approves the new contract later this month.
"[I’m] pretty certain that everybody's going to be questioning those types of issues at council,” she said. “What are the penalties and how does that work? Can we just pull a contract?"
City council is set to award the new contract by the end of the month, and the winning company will get to work as soon as the snow melts.