Sunday, March 14, 2010 | 3 a.m.
Ridding the Strip of the spray-painted chicken scratchings we all know as graffiti — let’s not call it art — won’t cost Clark County as much as in years past.
Why’s that? Have gangs fled the city? Did some divine force coat the Strip with graffiti-proof goodness?
No. The graffiti remains. But bids for a new graffiti-removal contract are lower than in years past. So low, in fact, some Clark County commissioners wonder if the contractor who did the work in previous years had taken the county to the cleaners. (Pun intended.)
“I do have some questions on this one,” Commissioner Steve Sisolak said.
The company said nothing could be further from the truth.
In a consent agenda item scheduled for Tuesday, county staff want commissioners to approve a contract with American Graffiti Inc. to remove stickers and paint, repaint and do any other work to rid the Strip and surrounding blocks of graffiti.
What caught Sisolak’s eye is that American Graffiti and the losing bidder, Graffiti Control, submitted bids, on a per-mile basis, that were much lower than in previous years. For instance, Graffiti Control’s per-mile cost to clean up graffiti had been $28,666 per mile. But in the new contract, it’s only $3,486 per mile, an 88 percent reduction. Likewise, American Graffiti’s previous contract was an average of $11,033 per mile. This time, it’s asking $3,302 per mile, a 70 percent reduction.
The new contract is to maintain 142 miles of streets in the resort corridor, from Sunset Road to Sahara Avenue, and Decatur Boulevard to Eastern Avenue. The winning bidder has the right to request price increases of up to 3 percent a year during the contract’s four years.
With projected 3 percent increases, American Graffiti’s bid came to $1.96 million. Graffiti Control’s came to $1.98 million.
Staff recommended American Graffiti.
So why did American Graffiti’s bid decrease so much?
Mike Kightlinger, American Graffiti manager, said that when it won its first contract four years ago, “the resort corridor had been fairly untouched for 12 to 15 years.”
He doesn’t mean untouched by graffiti. He means graffiti removal wasn’t to the level and degree that American Graffiti likes. So the initial cleanup was labor intensive. He used the analogy of a cleaner coming upon a green pool that hasn’t been cleaned in years. The first cleaning is going to take a lot more time and expense. After that, it’s easier to maintain.
“When we started, it was more like a restoration,” he said. “We brought it back up to the original state, we did the meat-and-potatoes work. And we even went beyond that.”
His company spent money out of its own pocket on special graffiti-resistant paints not required in its contract.
Now, American Graffiti is using an iPhone application that allows employees to photograph graffiti and send it to a computer to be mapped. This makes response and removal faster. Kightlinger said it also helps document graffiti trends to assist in the prosecution of taggers.
Is there much graffiti in the resort corridor?
Kightlinger said it finds about 1,000 chicken scratchings a week.
Where is this graffiti?
On streetlight poles, medians, sidewalks, traffic signs, control boxes and traffic signal poles.
Remember a few months ago when the county’s contract with the company that provides and warehouses its office equipment came under scrutiny? What happened?
The company is Faciliteq. Sisolak grilled the county’s purchasing department because he wanted to know how the county ended up doing business with just one company for the past decade, when putting contracts out to bid more frequently might save money.
Now he has his answer in the form of a multipage analysis befitting a master’s thesis.
His questioning might have saved money — by his estimate, $200,000.
Faciliteq will store unused office equipment for free the next two years. After that, it will be eligible to bid to remain the county’s provider and warehouser of furniture.
Storage became an issue in December because county staff asked to increase storage space from about 1,900 square feet to 7,800. At 95 cents a square foot, the 7,800 square feet would cost about $200,000 over two years. Now it will be free.
Why the change?
Sisolak said Faciliteq gets a one-year extension on its contract. “There was a potential that if it had gone out to bid, they could have lost our business.”
In two years, the county will seek new bids.