The New Orleans City Council questioned the leadership of the Sewerage and Water Board Tuesday about their plan for hiring more employees.
Some residents and council members worry the utility is on the path toward privatization.
There were many revelations about the Sewerage and Water Board after the flooding this summer. One of them was that some of the system’s pumps and generators weren’t working properly.
Another was man power – the Sewerage and Water Board didn’t have enough employees. Currently, it has more than 300 open positions.
Last week, the city posted a Request for Proposals (RFP) looking for a company that could help fill some of those positions with contract workers.
That has some people, like resident Angelina Elder, concerned that the publicly owned Sewerage and Water Board is on the path toward privatization.
“We went through this with the schools,” says Elder, referring to the growth of charter schools after Hurricane Katrina. “If they privatize Sewerage and Water Board, that’s gonna run out our city workers that have been homegrown.”
Council members James Gray and Jason Williams also expressed concern about privatization, but Sewerage and Water Board officials strongly denied that this RFP is a move in that direction.
They say they’re only looking to fill 14 positions right now, and that it will be temporary. They say they’ll first look to hire internally. But they also say those 14 jobs are crucial to their operations and might still need to be contracted from the outside.
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