It appears utilities management company OMI isn’t leaving Richmond Hill without at least a public attempt to strike a deal.
OMI Regional Vice President Gary Wood spoke to City Council members at Wednesday’s meeting, reading from a prepared statement while several of the company’s workers sat in the audience. Afterward, an OMI employee handed copies of Wood’s statement to the media.
The city voted last month to end its 14-year relationship with OMI, which takes care of much of the city’s public works, citing costs and the need to bring in house the running of its still-to-be constructed $25 million to $28 million wastewater treatment plant.
At the recommendation of Mayor Harold Fowler and City Manager Chris Lovell, the city voted to dump OMI and hire Braddy Enterprises to run public works in the interim — a move officials said would save the city more than $300,000.
That took OMI by surprise, said Wood, who repeatedly noted the company was under contract.
“With two-and-a-half months remaining in the second year of our five-year contract, we were deeply disappointed to hear the city is attempting to exit that contract to seek an alternative vendor as of Jan. 1,” he said, claiming OMI had “made significant investments in Richmond Hill based on the ability to recover our costs over a five-year term.”
Wood also questioned the city’s claims of savings.
At the time, the city’s contract with OMI was reported to be about $3 million annually, and Lovell said Braddy will cost about $2.6 million each year.
But Wood said OMI’s contract is actually $2.74 million annually and he offered to drop it to $2.6 million at Wednesday’s meeting.
That offer is “for the identical scope of services that were proposed for the alternate vendor and that we are currently under contract to provide,” Wood told council members who sat quietly while he spoke.
At one point, Fowler told Wood an attempt had been made to renegotiate the contract earlier, but he said he was told there was no room for negotiation. Wood countered local OMI leadership had no authority to change the company’s price.
He also told council members the city had “not presented any official request to negotiate compensation for the 2014 contract year,” but the company was willing to work with city officials now.
City officials gave no indication when or if the matter would be addressed and had no comment after the meeting, which was moved to Wednesday from its usual Tuesday due to the municipal election.