February 2022

Perception of losing control is a hurdle for Nebraska community

QuestionWe are a neighboring city of a community you operate in. At the time it was surprising that the city did not replace their outgoing operator with a new employee. Being in the same situation, I now understand why. They are very difficult to find – especially when you need them quickly. The elected officials are “old school” and they want to keep things in house and feel they would lose jobs and lose control if they outsource. Any advice on how to counter this way of thinking? I understand that a company like PeopleService can solve a lot of issues concerning water and wastewater operations. Thank you.

AnswerThank you for sending in a great question. Your mug is on its way! I understand the perception that a community may lose jobs and lose control. However, that’s simply not true. Water and wastewater operators are specialists, just like the city’s administrator, engineer and attorney. And, unlike PeopleService, they are not necessarily required to live in the community. We require our employees to live within 30 minutes of the facility(s) they operate. They buy gas, parts, food and their morning coffee in these communities. They are part of the communities they operate in. We cannot manage water and wastewater facilities from India. “Outsourcing” (we prefer the term “partnering”) requires boots on the ground in your community.

Yes, your city will lose the wage on your budget, but what you gain is a company full of specialists for their water/wastewater operations. Our deep bench of experienced operators gives your community a sense of security that you would be unable to get on your own. Vacation, illness, retirement, emergencies are all covered. Concerning control, you actually gain more control contracting your water/wastewater operations than if you had your own employees. Do the elected officials have water/wastewater experience? Does the city staff? Other than receiving a violation, how do you know things are getting done and getting done the right way?

I am not implying that city staff doesn’t do a good job, I am simply stating that the city does not have control anyway. With PeopleService, you have a contract that we honor and that assures things get done. If you’re not happy, then do not renew. (But I will have you look into tenure of our customers…we aim to keep you happy!) Can’t have more control than that. It’s not as easy when dealing with staff. When they license up and want more money, they move on or retire, what control does the city have? We understand the reservations of contract management and we’ve seen the pros and cons. I would be happy to sit down and discuss with the city how we do what we do and how the city can benefit by hiring specialists to manage, maintain and operate your water/wastewater systems. Contact me today.