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The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority's practice of contracting out for services that staff members used to perform was questioned by a member of the Board of Commissioners Thursday.

Commissioner Stuart Alexander questioned why a janitorial service is being paid more than $50,000 a year for cleaning services previously performed by staff members.

"I think it's inappropriate to contract out when we have staff to do the same thing," he said.

Sharon M. West, Housing Authority executive director, pointed out that the maintenance staff has been cut by 60 jobs and the contract involves stripping and waxing floors in restrooms that would have to be done on an overtime basis by the staff. The quality of the work done by Superior Cleaning Services also has been praised by residents, she said.

Then why isn't the Housing Authority staff providing better quality service? Alexander responded.

"If we downsize and then contract out, what are we accomplishing?" Alexander said.

A report on staffing levels and overtime pay will be prepared.

An amendment to the contract with Superior for additional work and increasing the contract amount by $4,600 -- to $57,400 -- was approved 5-1, with Alexander voting no.

The Housing Authority has cut about 100 jobs, including 60 in maintenance, over the past two years in response to a finding by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that it was overstaffed, West said.

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