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News :: Environment : Social Welfare
Holyoke citizens group offers alternative proposal to privatization of wastewater treatment plant
17 Dec 2004
A local resident’s group, Holyoke Citizens for Open Government (HCOG), will present a proposal to the Board of Public Works at their meeting on 12/16/04, 5:30pm at 63 Canal St., Holyoke. The proposal is for a public-public partnership as an alternative to privatizing the Berkshire Street Wastewater Treatment Plant.
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Holyoke citizens group offers alternative proposal to privatization of wastewater treatment plant.
Holyoke citizens group offers alternative proposal to privatization of wastewater treatment plant.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/16/04 Contact: holyokewater (at) hotmail.com
Helen Norris cell 413-531-3264 Jonathan Bates 413-303-0740 Lillian Santiago-Bauzá Cell 413 427 7764
http://water.homestead.com/hcogpressrelease12-16-04.html

A local resident’s group, Holyoke Citizens for Open Government (HCOG), will present a proposal to the Board of Public Works at their meeting on 12/16/04, 5:30pm at 63 Canal St., Holyoke. The proposal is for a public-public partnership as an alternative to privatizing the Berkshire Street Wastewater Treatment Plant.

HCOG’s proposal is based on successful models of public-public partnerships that have worked well in cities around the country. Of particular interest is the “Bid-to-Goal” optimization plan pioneered in San Diego, which has received numerous awards and saved the city more than $90 million over five years. The plan was authored by HDR Inc., the same company that drew up the privatization plans for Holyoke.

The HCOG plan includes best practices from several cities where municipal public operations have been optimized and made more efficient to the tune of millions of dollars in savings. Some of the highlights include:
· Creation of a Public-Public Partnership coalition with involvement from the Mayor, City Council, DPW workers and management, labor unions, community and environmental organizations, and interested citizens, whose role would be to provide transparency, oversight, and local accountability, and allow for citizen input..
· An optimization or efficiency study that would identify best practices and suggest actions to improve current operations.
· A realistic implementation of a strategy to clean up the CSO sewage going into the river, make the system more efficient, and control rates, without selling off a slice of the DPW to a corporation..
· Creation of a Labor-Management team which would draw on current employee knowledge and suggestions, optimize management of the facility, and create incentives for efficiency and performance.
· Develop a bid-to-goal program based on the San Diego model planned by HDR Inc.

HCOG continues to demand more time for public review of the Aquarion contract, only available to the public since November 24. “We’ve asked for six weeks to review a contract that will affect us for the next 20 years—six weeks is a small sacrifice to ensure that we don’t make a big mistake. The BPW’s 9 day extension makes it plain that they don’t want to hear our input or think critically about the consequences of this decision,” said Mara Dodge, HCOG member.

HCOG has also asked that the city send postcards to all Holyoke ratepayers informing them of the decision to privatize the wastewater treatment facility. The City has refused to provide this notice to ratepayers.

“HCOG wants full consideration of all options, especially in light of the dismal record of malfeasance, corruption, and ineptitude that has been associated with privatization fiascoes in Atlanta, Lynn, Camden, Stockton, and other cities,” said Jonathan Bates, HCOG member. He adds, “The river, the city workers, and the ratepayers in Holyoke will all come in second to the demands for profit from Kelda’s shareholders. If exchange rates make the company unprofitable and Kelda decides to sell, where are we then? The city has successfully operated the wastewater and water systems for years, and we can only lose by letting a private corporation have a piece of our public utilities.”

HCOG is a diverse coalition of concerned Holyoke residents, union members, city councilors, teachers, students, and environmental, labor, and community folks. We share a commitment to a clean river and a fair deal for Holyoke residents and city employees. The proposal can be viewed on our website, at http://water.homestead.com/altprop.html

Mp3 audio from the Dec.3 HCOG press conference, which includes statements from four city councilors, is online at http://water.homestead.com/pressconference.html . A website with more resources and news on local privatization issues is at http://water.homestead.com.

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See also:
http://water.homestead.com
http://water.homestead.com/altprop.html

This work is in the public domain.
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