POUGHKEEPSIE – Effective July 1, the City of Poughkeepsie Water and Sewer Departments will no longer exist. The city has entered into an agreement with Veolia North America to maintain operations of water distribution and sewer lines throughout the city.
The agreement resulted in the city reassigning several DPW employees from those departments into other assignments on the city’s payroll. The employees were also provided the opportunity to take a position with the outside contractor or consider early retirement for those eligible.
City Administrator Marc Nelson noted Veolia has been operating the city’s sewer plant since 1980. Under the new addendum to the contract, Veolia will now be in responsible for maintaining and repairing both the sewer and water lines while also handling catch basin maintenance.
Poughkeepsie has a large Jetvactor truck that performs the sewer cleaning. Under the agreement, Veolia will be using the city’s truck to perform the work. The city is also allowing Veolia to use its catch basin cleaning truck and a utility truck to support Veolia operations. Nelson said that the city will maintain ownership of the vehicles.
According to the city administrator, “The city negotiated compensation for their use by Veolia as part of a reduced annual fee, which would otherwise be higher if Veolia had to provide the vehicles themselves.” As of June 28, the city had been unable to provide MidHudsonNews.com with a copy of the signed contract that details the financial obligations for each party.
Nelson also said that materials and other small equipment owned by the city had been inventoried and will be replaced by Veolia as it is used, “such that the equivalent value will be present at contract conclusion. As inventory is used it will be replaced by Veolia.”
Nelson indicated that the contract language guarantees that, “at the end of the contract, the city will be left with exactly what we started with.”
Touting the privatization as a cost-savings measure, the city administrator said it is “part of our restructuring of DPW to improve service to customers and maximize efficiencies while holding the line on costs.”
Veolia will be converting the existing sewer maps into a GIS mapping system and creating a long-term repair and maintenance program that has been abandoned years ago as its financial condition deteriorated. Nelson pointed out that by creating this multi-year repair and replacement plan will save city taxpayers significantly by sharply reducing the need for repairs to be made on an emergency basis.
“We worked hand-in-hand with CSEA leadership at the city on this initiative and discussions with the union began very early in the conceptual stage, which has led to an extremely smooth implementation plan.” Nelson also said “this is very much an example of what can be accomplished when management and union leadership work together to make the organization stronger.”