Mission Viejo is categorized as a “contract city.” A contract city is one which typically goes out for competitive bids for specific public services, the largest being our $15 million contract with the OC Sheriff’s Department for public safety.
But there are others that fly under the radar in our city such as a $282,000 two-year contract for inspections of playgrounds and other facilities. The only bidder in 2011 has held that contract exclusively for many years. He also repeatedly receives another contract, now almost $700,000, for miscellaneous services. Work performed includes moving heavy items, maintenance of City water features, all playground equipment repairs, graffiti removal at playgrounds and parks, painting and drywall repair of City offices, light carpentry fencing repair, and providing some labor for special events etc. There was only one other bidder for that contract. Ironically, the lack of bids occurred during the down economy of 2011 when contractors were hungry for business.
Frequently city contracts provide for multi-year extensions by the City Council without further bidding. The relevant issue is whether competitive bidding is an illusion when other contractors may perceive that Mission Viejo consistently awards some contracts to favored vendors. If so, taxpayers may not be receiving the due benefit from being a contract city.