The University of Missouri has sent out a call for bids from private companies to replace the university's custodial and landscaping services.
This comes as the university continues to make cuts and explore ways to save money because of major financial issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
MU spokesman Christian Basi said no decision has been made yet, but the university is exploring this as an option to reduce costs.
"Only if we feel like it's a significant cost savings would we make a decision to engage with one of those outside contractors," Basi said.
The university employs about 250 custodians and 31 landscaping staff. For custodial services, the university budgeted about $9.5 million, which includes both educational and general buildings as well as revenue-generating buildings and services such as Residential Life and the bookstore.
The university budgeted about $2.6 million for landscaping.
Basi said MU officials first have to read the proposals before they can discuss what happens to the workers the university currently employs.
"We're looking to maintain the services that we do provide to the buildings, but at a cost that's lower than we are incurring now," Basi said.
He hasn't heard of any plans to reduce the budget or staff for the services if no proposal comes in that the university accepts, but said the university is always looking for ways to become more efficient.
"We are continuing to review the different operations that we have and making sure we are doing so in the most cost-efficient manner," Basi said. "If we don't receive any proposals that provide the savings we're looking for, we're certainly going to go back and take another good look and see if there are any ways or areas we can adjust to incur some additional savings."
If the university accepts a proposal, Basi expects the transition to a private company to happen before the start of the fall semester.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit organizational budgets across the country, the university has had to make major cuts including layoffs, furloughs and freezing pay raises and travel expenses.
Basi said it's likely the cuts forced departments across the university to dip into reserve funds they had been saving for larger projects. While individual departments may have reserve funds or savings, he said the university budget does not work the same way.
"The university does not have a single pot of money that is a reserve fund," Basi said.
Tune in to ABC17 News at 9 on KQFX and 10 on KMIZ for more on this story.