As union reps work feverishly to prevent 200 jobs in the City of Pembroke Pines from being outsourced to a private firm, that firm has fallen under close scrutiny.
Facility Contract Services, the St. Augustine-based company chosen to take over the task of providing city services ranging from auditing to zoning, did not bid for the contract. Terms of the contract -- including how much Facility Contract Services will be paid -- have not been revealed.
This deal is strikingly similar to an existing, multimillion-dollar contract the firm has to provide maintenance services to the City of Pembroke Pines. In December 2008, Facility Contract Services got that job without bidding either.
The Haskell Co., a major construction firm that handled Pines' various maintenance
needs for nine years, decided to assign its contract to Facility Contract Services. The offer was supposed to save the city $150,000 a year, records show, because the contractor's fee would be reduced from 5 percent to 2.5 percent.
Fantastic. But why give a firm a major government contract without putting it out to bid? It couldn't hurt that the founder of the firm, Shawn Hiester, used to be a project director for Haskell and had already done millions of dollars of business with the City of Pembroke Pines.
Hiester filed documents with the Florida Secretary of State to incorporate Facility Contract Services in October 2008. When that firm took over Haskell's maintenance contract, the money kept flowing, uninterrupted, from Hiester's old company to his new one.
Hiester did not immediately respond to the Juice's request for comment today.
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Records show that the city has paid Facility Contract Services about $9 million since the maintenance contract began in 2008.
Dan Rotstein, human resources director for the city, says the bill fluctuates annually based on how much work the city needs done. "It gives the most flexibility to the city to only pay for what is needed," he says.
Facility Contract Services may soon have another no-bid contract with the city, for an unspecified amount.
The City Commission decided to outsource about 200 jobs to the company in a closed meeting in May. Some city workers have already ready received letters informing them that Facility Contract Services will be their new employer, starting June 21. Union leaders are now offering budget-cutting alternatives to try to ward off the deal.