The costs of winter maintenance in the municipality increases inexplicably with each new winter season.
Every three years the cost of cleaning the snow in the winter in the Municipality of Sevlievo increases by several hundred thousand BGN. Against the mild winters of the last years and the snowfalls that counted on the fingers, it is difficult to find explanation for the higher cost. There is also no logic that, despite falling mileage rates, road maintenance money is increasing at times.
With BGN 724 thousand more were paid for winter maintenance in the Municipality of Sevlievo from 2016 to 2019 compared to the previous three-year period. A reference to the public procurement register of the companies that maintained the road network from 2013 to 2016 shows that the amount paid was BGN 477 thousand, VAT included. Over the next three seasons, the activity was assigned to other two road maintenance companies that were maintaining the roads for the period 2016-2019. Taking into account their terminated contract, it became clear that BGN 1.2 million were paid for the maintenance of the exact same road network. Probably because of the good quality of their service, they were contracted to perform this service by 2022 as well, but at an even higher price – about BGN 1.6 million, VAT included.
And what if it doesn’t snow?
During the entire winter period in Sevlievo, it snows between four and six times. This is shown by a report that is submitted annually to the municipal Headquarters for disaster protection before the oncoming of each winter. The reference is prepared by the security officer in the Municipality Dimitar Nozharov. According to the reference’s content, in 2016 there were four snowfalls in Sevlievo and the villages of the municipality – one in November and three in January. The last heavy snow fell at the end of January 2016 and it was the only one that required heavy snow cleaning.
The same report shows that in 2017, the first snow fell on November 21, and for the whole season there were only six real winter situations.
Data for year 2018 are to be summarized. Whatever they may be, it is clear that for three consecutive winters, situations requiring full mobilization of people and equipment will not turn out to be more than fifteen by number, which is difficult to justify the much higher cost of winter maintenance.
One detail – the cleaners are different
From 2013 to 2016, the companies that cleaned the snow and processed the roads against icing were two – the Sevlievo “Mazalat” and “Putstroy Gabrovo”.
“Mazalat” has a contract to snow-clean and sand the streets in the city and the villages, and “Putstroy Gabrovo” maintains the municipal road network. The public procurement they won is about BGN 1 million, divided into three lots. After the expiry of the performance deadline and it was reported as fulfilled, BGN 477 thousand was indicated as amounts paid, i.e. that were the actually performed and invoiced activities.
In 2016, the Municipality of Sevlievo announces a public procurement for snow cleaning for three more seasons. The winner was the company under the Law on Obligations and Contracts “Winter Cleaning Sevlievo”, a merger of two companies – the Sevlievo “Infrastroezhi” and the Haskovo “Eco Tradex Group”. The two of them perform public procurement of the Municipality of Sevlievo for millions of BGN and are among the favorites of the municipal administration both individually and united. This procurement is also for BGN 1 million, reported as fulfilled, and the amounts paid under it are only BGN 4 below its value, i.e. the money is 100% absorbed.
This payment was for the maintenance of 288 km of municipal roads, 325 km of streets in the villages, 51 km of streets in Sevlievo and the cleaning of 10 main streets in urban areas (neighborhoods outside the city’s construction boundaries, editor’s note). This road network is the same for all public procurements.
At the end of 2018 the Municipality of Sevlievo announces the next public procurement for winter maintenance – for the seasons 2019/2020, 2020/2021 and 2021/22. Initially, its declared value is about BGN 1.6 million, VAT included. The execution is again entrusted to “Winter Maintenance Sevlievo”. The contract, signed by the company with the Municipality, stipulates a price for a mileage of snow-cleaning in the amount of BGN 17 per kilometer. This is much lower than the price at which the same company had concluded a previous contract with the Municipality for the same road network.
In that previous contract, the cost per kilometer of snow-cleaning is almost 30 BGN. Interestingly, what happened that the participant lowered the price so much and how in 2017 the company was cleaning for 30 BGN per kilometer, and in 2020 it will make it for half less. One of the possible reasons is that the price that a competing company involved in the procedure gives is also competitive – BGN 19 per kilometer. However, this information is kept secret until price offers are opened, so why the same company decides to snow-clean in Sevlievo at a much lower price than the one it has already cleaned at, remains a mystery.
It is also a mystery what more has been done to maintain streets and roads in Sevlievo in order to increase the cost of the service by 60% from 2016 to this moment and what more will be done when the same service jumps another 30% by 2022.