Employees Association braces for final word on outsourcing

CARLSBAD — Members from the Carlsbad City Employees Association have buckled down, waiting for the city of Carlsbad’s next move after city council asked staff to pursue the option of outsourcing all park maintenance services. 

Nearly 40 employees are at risk of losing their jobs following an independent analysis by Baker Tilly, revealing that the city could save $1.7 million to $3.8 million annually if they used outside contracts for park maintenance.

City workers have a list of responsibilities such as lawn mowing, picking up debris, repairing and maintaining irrigation systems, tree-trimming, weed abatement, and more. Now, the city is considering having an outside company performing these tasks.

Pam Drew, president of the Carlsbad City Employees Association, said that the overall mood among the park maintenance employees is hard to put into words.

“They take a lot of pride in what they do and they feel numb that this happening,” Drew said. “They are thinking that the city shouldn’t be cutting corners when you are talking about quality, safety and services for the community.”

Drew wants people to know that the employees receive a great deal of personal satisfaction from their work. Every year, the score that parks maintenance receives are very high in its annual survey.

“They are in shock why the city would want to trade that in for a lower cost,” she said. “And of course, no one wants to lose a job.”

Deputy City Manager Cynthia Haas who spoke with the city council about the Baker Tilly report results highlighted the parks services, which would reduce operation costs.

“But it was with the caveat that the high standards that we have in place would not be sacrificed,” said Haas, referring to the outsourcing.

Drew believes that the Baker Tilly report, which used five cities and one national company, really wasn’t a solid comparison for the numbers.

But that answer will be revealed when staff members prepare their Request for Proposal, (RFP) in the next few months.

“We want to make sure that everything that the parks maintenance people do is included in that RFP,” said Drew, adding that profit entities are there to make a profit. “We do believe that once RFPs come in that we will be competitive with the outside for profit companies.”

Drew said that the city council doesn’t want to lay their employees off but the city must do their due diligence after receiving the Baker Tilly report.

The Carlsbad City Employees Association is not a union. Drew pointed out that they do not have strike abilities. Instead, they are an employee association, which is required by state law to do bargaining with the city for negotiations for labor costs and are also part of a social network.

In the meantime, while the RFP is being created, Drew and other members of the Carlsbad City Employees Association board will be on hand for any questions the employees may have and give them regular updates.

“When the city sends out the RFP, I am hoping that they will work with us and allow us to be part of the proposal team and to be able make sure they’ve included everything the parks and tree maintenance do,” Drew said. “We want to make sure they are comparing apples to apples and that residents do continue to get the quality of service that they are used to.”



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