McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 25, 2014

City council to consider letting Texas company operate water plant

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — McAlester city councilors are set to decide Tuesday night whether the city should wash its hands of the city’s water treatment plant operations.

An item on the council’s Tuesday night meeting agenda calls for the council to discuss and possibly vote on a proposal for an outside entity from Texas to take over the operation and maintenance of the city’s water system for the next five years.

It’s among the items on the agenda set for action when the city council meets in regular session at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The proposed agreement would be between the McAlester Public Works Authority and Severn Trent Environmental Services Inc., of Houston, Texas,  for the operation and treatment of the water plant.

If approved, the city will pay the Texas company an annual base fee of $1,356,096. It would be payable in 12 monthly installments of $113,008 “in advance, on the first day of each and every month for the duration of this agreement...” the proposal states.

That amount is expected to rise since there’s a clause allowing for an annual adjusted fee, which cites the “Price Index in effect as of April 1 of the agreement year that has just ended.”

The agreement would call for a public-private partnership to provide “opportunities for improved water plant operations, improved asset management and cost-savings operations through bulk purchase of chemicals and related items,” according to claims made on city documents. City Manager Pete Stasiak prepared the item, the meeting agenda states.

The proposed agreement would be between the McAlester Public Works Authority and Severn Trent Environmental Services Inc., of Houston, Texas,  for the operation and treatment of the water plant.

If the council approves the agreement, the Texas company is set to take over operations on March 1 and would continue until June 30, 2019.

For one year following the commencement date of the agreement, “the operator will evaluate the reduction of the staffed operation of the water plant from the initial staffing of 24 hours a day,” the proposed agreement states.

Prior to the implementation of a reduction min staffing, the city and the private company would negotiate regarding adjustments in the base fee or the scope of services, according to the proposal.

Also on the agenda are the following items:

• Discussion and presentation of the mid-year budget review for the current 2013-2014 Fiscal Year, from the city’s Chief Financial Officer, Toni Ervin.

•  Presentation of the McAlester Regional Health Center Authority Audit for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, presented by   hospital Chief Financial Officer Darryl Linnington.

• Consider and act upon a McAlester City Council resolution adopting the city’s amended and restated Defined Benefit Retirement Plan and Tust, providing for severability and an effective starting date, from City Manager Pete Stasiak.

The item, if approved, would amend and restate the Defined Benefit Retirement Plan to incorporate previous amendments required by the Pension Protection Act of 2006, the Heroes Assistance and Relief Tax of 2008, and other applicable laws, regulations and administrative authority, according to city documents.

• Consider and act upon approval of a bid to Freedom Ford, of McAlester, for the purchase of three new and unused 2014 police SUVs, from McAlester Police Chief Gary Wansick.

Freedom Ford presented the only bid, of $107,243.01., according to city documents.

• Consider and act upon a budget ordinance for the current 2013-2014 Fiscal Year, to reflect recent changes in the city’s budgetary picture.

The amendments reflect an additional $2.4 million in city revenues since August, as well as an additional $5.2 million in expenses, according to city documents.

Included on the consent agenda is a proposed law enforcement cooperative agreement between the cities of McAlester and Krebs. Under the consent agenda provisions, the item can be approved by a single vote of the council, unless a councilor asks that the item be removed for individual discussion.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.