By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — Mayor Stephen Zanni has outsourced custodial services at City Hall, a change he said will save the city $100,000 annually.
Zanni said janitors from S.J. Services of Danvers worked their first day at City Hall on Thursday. The company will maintain the building five days per week under a one-year, $38,000 contract.
“Just with the couple days I observed, it’s been excellent,” Zanni said. “What I’m looking for is cost-effectiveness. In this case, we’re talking $100,000 per year.”
Custodial work at City Hall had previously been the responsibility of two Methuen employees.
Zanni told the City Council last night that one of the custodians has transferred to the School Department after a vacancy opened up. The second employee is on long-term medical leave and is expected to retire, Zanni said.
Each City Hall custodian received a base salary of around $44,000, but additional benefits like longevity, clothing allowances, health insurance and overtime pay translated to a total cost of $108,611 a year for the two workers, Zanni said.
He said the two employees are also due a collective $28,542 in unused sick and vacation time, bringing their total cost to just over $137,000. By using a private company, Zanni said the city will no longer be forced to pay custodians longevity, overtime, health insurance and pension benefits.
The mayor said the $38,077 contract with S.J. Services includes $5,100 for cleaning materials.
Zanni said he is trying to run the city like a business.
“It’s a great move, in terms of outsourcing,” he said. “I think it’s going to be very effective.”
Earlier this year, Zanni attempted to outsource the municipal Information Technology department. The proposal was rejected by the City Council several times.
Public Works Director Raymond DiFiore said S.J. Services was the lowest of three bidders for the City Hall job.
DiFiore said the company has been given a check list consisting of various tasks to perform nightly, like emptying trash and recycling bins. Other tasks, like cleaning rugs and washing windows, will be performed periodically, he said.
S.J. Services employees begin their work at City Hall at 4:30 p.m.
DiFiore said the company provides daily janitorial services to a dozens of clients in the area, including the city of Haverhill, Northern Essex Community College and parts of the MBTA.
DiFiore said he checked the company’s references with five municipalities and state agencies and said he received “nothing but good reports from all the people I called.”
“It’s something we’ve been looking at and we’re very happy with the cost,’’ he said.