by Pam Zubeck
El Paso County's decision to outsource vehicle and heavy equipment maintenance and repairs comes at a time when dealerships and other automotive businesses are hurting. Well, I guess everyone is hurting.
But a recent pre-bid conference drew 34 people from 23 businesses from Colorado Springs, Denver and Pueblo who were interested in handling the work that county workers can't get to.
Commissioner Sallie Clark, who notes the county has more than 350 pieces of equipment to maintain, says, "It's not my understanding we would be laying anybody off. But if we are looking to take on a lot more onto our fleet maintenance, it probably would require more manpower than we could provide."
Sean Williams, with Cummins Rocky-Mountain, LLC, of Henderson, says this is the first time his company has bid on an El Paso County contract.
"And as far as I know, this was the first time they (El Paso) opened the bid up to a large group of potential suppliers," Williams writes in an email. "I would say the interest was there for multiple reasons. The size of El Paso's fleet is fairly healthy and when coupled with the economy still being in a depressed state this allows suppliers the opportunity to pick up a municipality that has annual business they must tend to, which brings with it maintenance, repairs and so forth."
Denny Bratton with Colorado Machinery, which has four locations including Colorado Springs, is more succinct: "The reason for so many bidders in my opinion is the current state of the economy."
County spokesman Dave Rose says the county will still do most of its own heavy fleet maintenance and there will be no layoffs. He says the purpose for the solicitation of bids is to cover specialized maintenance work that the county isn’t equipped to handle.
"It has never been cost effective for the county to buy the necessary equipment and/or hire the required skilled technicians for seldom required specialized services like: transmission rebuild, three axle alignment, heavy equipment towing, suspension and springs rebuild," Rose says.
He adds that the contractors will pitch in if the county falls behind on other work, such as during a snowstorm when the equipment runs nonstop and needs more work than during lower use times.
Bids are due Tuesday.