People in Central should expect another five years of their government services coming from private contractor IBTS after the company won praise Tuesday evening from both Mayor Jr. Shelton and the Central City Council.
IBTS, the Institute for Building Technology and Safety, has spent the past seven years running government services in Central, where the number of city government employees can be counted on one hand. The not-for-profit, Virginia-based company was one of two that bid for the contract to run services that other City Halls hire government employees to accomplish.
IBTS offered its services starting at $3.9 million annually and working up to $4.4 million in the final year of a five-year contract.
"This is probably the most reputable, the most honest organization that I have ever been affiliated with," Shelton said after he recommended a new contract with IBTS to the City Council.
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The City Council unanimously agreed, though Shelton legally did not need its approval to select IBTS.
The other company that bid to provide Central's government services was CSRS Inc., a for-profit engineering and consulting firm with a major Baton Rouge presence. The prices for CSRS' services topped IBTS by more than $700,000 annually, Shelton said.
He said he could not justify spending more on the CSRS contract when the services they proposed were not far superior to those in the IBTS proposal. Shelton added that CSRS also still has more than $2 million in various engineering contracts with Central.
Michael Baker International and H&O Investments LLC also sent representatives to a mandatory Central pre-bid meeting in late November, but neither company submitted a proposal.
Shelton said his next step will be to hammer out a contract with IBTS. IBTS Chief Executive Officer Ashok Goswami attended the meeting and said his company will approach the next five years with "greater rigor."
One big change Shelton said Central wants from IBTS is to beef up emergency services. The August 2016 floods exposed a weak spot in Central's privatized system of government — the lack of personnel and resources available on a round-the-clock basis to respond to disasters, he said.
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IBTS' new proposal includes a partnership with Gulf Engineers and Consultants, GEC, to help with emergency response. Shelton said the partnership could bring a new level of resources to Central in case of future disasters.
Councilman Shane Evans also referenced IBTS' work during the floods, when Central was especially hard-hit. He said other municipalities are used to receiving change orders from companies that demand extra money when they work under such circumstances. But IBTS did not do that, Evans said.
"They saved lots of people's homes through their efforts to understand substantial damage risk," Councilman Jason Ellis said.
IBTS took over providing services for Central in 2011, with an initial five-year contract to provide services at slightly more than $3 million a year. The company had its original five-year contract extended for two years before Shelton opened up bidding again in late 2017. CH2M Hill provided city services before IBTS took over.