EAST PEORIA — In a rare change of mind, the East Peoria City Council on Tuesday reversed a vote from two weeks ago and awarded a cleaning contract to Central Cleaning Services Inc., the lowest of five bidders for the job.

At the Dec. 5 meeting, two commissioners and Mayor Dave Mingus voted against the Central Cleaning contract. Instead the 3-2 majority appeared to spontaneously support the second lowest bidder, Tazewell County Resource Center's Custodial Services Program, a service that provides employment for adults with developmental disabilities. Commissioners John Kahl and Gary Densberger were on the losing end of the vote to approve the Central Cleaning contract.

"(To me) it's more of a moral obligation and I believe a feeling of what I believe is the right thing to do," Decker said two weeks ago before voting against the Central Cleaning contract. "I believe the right thing to do would be to go with the Tazewell Country Resource Center."

Without any prior conversation on the topic, Jeffers agreed with Decker. A mild insurrection was underway.

"We talk about quality of life a lot," Jeffers said at the time. "I think the investments we make in people are greater than the dollars we save."

Mingus didn't show his hand as he called for the vote on the Central Cleaning contract.

"All right," Mingus said. "Tough call."

Then he joined Decker and Jeffers in voting "nay."

The topic returned to the council agenda Tuesday night for a reconsideration of the cleaning contract vote. Law requires a 4 to 1 vote in the commissioner form of government in order to approve anything other than a lowest bid. Mingus changed his vote Tuesday from nay to aye when it seemed clear a fourth vote of support for the TCRC contract was not coming from either Kahl or Densberger. The 3-2 vote in favor of the Central Cleaning contract was enough to secure the lowest bid.

Central Cleaning, the city's current cleaning service bid $87,540 for the contract to clean EastSide Centre, the public works building, FOLEPI Building, City Hall and Civic Plaza, Public Safety Building, Riverfront Park and other public properties. The TCRC bid was $112,800.

Mingus cited the difference in the amount of the bids and the city's need to move forward quickly with a new cleaning contract as reasons he switched his vote.

"Maybe TCRC can sharpen their pencils and lower their bid to get our business (next year)," Mingus said.

TCRC CEO Jamie Durdel attended the Dec. 5 meeting but did not attend Tuesday night. He said Tuesday afternoon that he had no idea that his second lowest bid would receive favorable attention two weeks earlier.

"I was not expecting that at all. I just assumed they would go with the lowest bidder," he said by phone Tuesday.

TWRC janitorial services has 35 contracts 10 of which are with other governmental entities including Tazewell County office buildings.

Durdel hoped the group's bid for an East Peoria contract might lead to different collaborative efforts down the road.

"I just hope it might open doors to work together at some other time," he said.

Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at shilyard@pjstar.com.