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The Waitaki District Council last week approved a competitive open procurement process for a contract for up to $2.2million a year for three years, with two rights of renewal of two years each, or a potential contract term of seven years.
The first time the council took its parks maintenance contract to the market, in 2016, Downer won the contract - previously held by Whitestone Contracting Ltd - with a tender of $1,641,029.38 a year.
Whitestone Contracting, established in 1991, carried on from the council's works department and had previously always had the contract to maintain council-owned parks, gardens, cemeteries, sports fields, and public toilets.
At the time, the community feared that up to 19 local jobs were in jeopardy, but the council said it had saved ratepayers $450,000 a year for the duration of the contract.
Now, in his report to the council's assets committee, council recreation manager Erik van der Spek writes ''officers believe the current contract was under-priced by approximately $250,000''.
Despite ongoing complaints about the maintenance of some areas in the district, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher publicly defended the 2016 decision until February this year.
In the contractor's third year of failing to keep up with strong spring and summer growth though, Mr Kircher said he had ''had enough'' and questioned whether the council was being treated as ''fools'' for not demanding better.
Cr Jan Wheeler sought assurance the contract would include ''specific details'' about standards for parks.
Cr Jim Hopkins said he was pleased the council had not rolled over the original contract for another two years.
''I'm glad we're doing this,'' Cr Hopkins said.
''It's a shame the contractor at the moment has been problematic.''