McLennan County commissioners are considering using jail inmates for some of the cleaning duties in county buildings as a cost-saving measure.

Staff photo— Rod Aydelotte, file

McLennan County commissioners continued to discuss this week the dilemma of when and how county buildings should be cleaned, and who should clean them.

The court first introduced the possibility of switching cleaning companies at the end of August as a cost-saving measure for the county, also discussing the possibility of using inmates for some of the work.

In early October, the court decided that Bison Environment would clean the restrooms in the courthouse, Records Building and courthouse annex for about $39,000 annually, according to court documents.

Inmate crews will be responsible for the public areas.

Bison Environment will replace Jason Janitorial, which had the contract for the previous five years.

But the issue has yet to be resolved as the court evaluates how to include the six remaining county buildings left to be cleaned.

Those buildings hold the smaller offices that house justice of the peace and constables in precincts 7 and 8, adult probation, information technologies and the Bill Logue Juvenile Justice Center.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s staff volunteered to clean its own building and a jail inmate crew will clean the Shep Mullins Visitation Center, extending the crew’s current responsibility out of lawn maintenance. Maintenance Director Sam Sykora and Purchasing Director Ken Bass said their employees would take care of cleaning the purchasing and maintenance offices.

Bass plans to present vendor quotes for the remaining buildings Tuesday.

County Judge Scott Felton said the difficulty in hiring someone to clean the remaining offices revolves around the county’s requirement for any contract vendors to have insurance, the premiums of which often are included in the cost of the contract.

The smaller offices don’t have the budget to cover the cost of both the cleaning and insurance, Felton said.

The IT department has about $2,800 to spend on janitorial services for fiscal year 2014 and the entire amount the justice of the peace offices 7 and 8 have for all their office maintenance is about $3,700.

Commissioner Kelly Snell said he hoped the smaller offices’ staffs also would have volunteered to clean their work spaces, and they still could be forced to if the incoming bids aren’t low enough.

But Snell said the juvenile and adult probation buildings still will need to have professional janitors because of their high volume of traffic.

Felton said he expects a decision to be made in the next few weeks.