SANTA ANA : Contract to Remove Graffiti Is Renewed

The Santa Ana City Council has renewed its contract with a firm that cleans up graffiti, but one council member suggested the company may be overcharging the city by about $30,000 a year.

The council voted 5-1 to award the one-year, $300,000 contract to North Hollywood-based Graffiti Control Systems, with council members Miguel A. Pulido Jr., Thomas E. Lutz, Daniel H. Young, Robert L. Richardson and Richards L. Norton supporting it and Councilman Ted R. Moreno opposed. Councilwoman Lisa Mills was absent.

Moreno said that the way Graffiti Control Systems bills the city for the amount of paint used to remove graffiti is either wasteful or intentionally designed to overcharge the city.

Based on invoices of the contractor's work, he said that 11.5% of the time "the contractor is charging us for an extra gallon I don't feel we need. If he's going to gouge us for 11.5%, I'd rather go with another contractor."

Other council members chastised Moreno, calling his comments unsupported and unfair to a contractor who has served the city well for the last two years.

Norton said he was offended by Moreno's "suppositions" and told him, "We shouldn't intimate that these guys are not being square with the city if we don't know they're not being square with the city."

"This guy's done a good job and I haven't heard a complaint," Young added. "He is the lowest qualified bidder (and) I don't see where he's done a doggone thing wrong."

He added that the company followed the same rules as the other bidders to win the contract and called Moreno's proposal to rework the contract or put it out to bid again "unfair."

Doing so would also discourage future bidders from seeking government contracts because the process would be viewed as too frustrating and politically charged to be worthwhile. "We can't be putting people through this torture," Young said.

City Manager Dave N. Ream also defended the company, saying that it has "really performed extremely well for us." During the 1992-93 fiscal year, Graffiti Control Services has removed more than 1.2 million square feet of graffiti citywide.

Barry Woods, president of Graffiti Control Systems, disputed Moreno's charges, saying that the city will now pay about 10% less for graffiti removal than under the previous contract, for a savings of about $30,000.

He said, "We're not trying to stuff our own pockets, we're trying to do a good job for the city."

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