In a staff report released by Oakdale Interim City Manager Greg Wellman, the city will be considering privatization of all its public works services with the exception of two city garage mechanics.
In a proposal to the city council which Wellman, Incoming Interim City Manager Stan Feathers, and Operations Manager Dee Tatum characterize as “the singular most distressing item the council may consider in the future,” outlines five “segments” for contracting out services and reorganizing the city’s public works department.
In the report, Wellman writes, “…this item will affect the lives and employment of virtually every employee within the Divisions of the Public Works Department.”
If the council approves the privatization proposal, each segment of the public works divisions would be placed out to bid by the city to local vendors who would perform the services. Wellman adds that the affected city employees could act as independent contractors to bid themselves and also suggests that the city’s bid may request that the successful contractor incorporate the former employees into their workforce for at least six months to one year.
Segment One of the proposal targets the parks division and its eight unionized employees. The privatization contract would include all city property lawn mowing and pond basin maintenance.
Segment Two would eliminate the job of the Deputy Director of Public Works, held by David Myers, and the Administrative Analyst position. Public Works Director Joe Leach has already received notice from the city that he will be terminated July 20, 2012.
Segment Three and Four calls for the elimination of the entire “Streets and Utilities Divisions” and electrical systems which includes 13 employees assigned to streets and utility maintenance and two electrical technicians. Services for this area would also be contracted out and put to a Request for Proposal (RFP).
The fifth segment affects the waste water treatment plant and all of their operations. The five assigned employees would be laid off and services for the plant contracted out to a private bidder.
With virtually the elimination of the public works department, public works and community development would be combined and overseen by a solo proposed manager with another city-recruited position to capable of monitoring the host of contracts.
Look to the July 4 edition of The Leader and online as this story develops.