Could Public Works be outsourced, privatized?

Published 5:27pm Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ward 1 Councilman Cecil Williamson will call Tuesday for the public works committee to investigate how surrounding cities outsource their grass cutting, housing demolition, litter pickup and local roadwork repair jobs.

Williamson, as well as other council members, have continually aired their frustrations for the lack of grass cutting this summer and other projects they claim the public works department has fallen behind on.

Some members say the public works department employees have too much work and not enough manpower and Williamson said he would like to see how other cities handle their public works issues.

“It looks like this summer that we have gotten behind on public works and litter and tearing down houses,” Williamson said. “We just seem to be behind where we need to be.”

In a council work session Thursday, Ward 6 Councilmember Bennie Ruth Crenshaw discussed the topic, and called for putting together a long-term plan after it was discussed the public works employees perhaps move job-to-job across all wards each day with no pattern.

“Whatever that plan is right now, whatever we have in place, is not working,” Crenshaw told the Times-Journal. “We are putting in work orders and it takes us a long time to get to the mayor’s desk. I’m not sure if we have enough employees to get done what needs to be done.”

Crenshaw admitted she has never seen the public works orders go so slowly and said she has never seen them fall this far behind.

While Williamson would like to consider looking into outsourcing some of the jobs as well as implement a long-term plan, Crenshaw said outsourcing could be an option but questioned what would happen with current city workers.

“I don’t know how effective that would be to outsource because we would be paying people to do the work for the people that we already have in place,” she said. “And what do we do with the people that we have?”

Williamson noted that once the city outsourced garbage services to Advanced Disposal in February, more workers were made available to do the job within the city’s department and the city is still behind on work orders.

“I am going to bring it up Tuesday and ask it be referred to the public works committee and ask they look into how other cities handle their grass cutting, litter pick up and tearing down dilapidated houses,” Williamson said.

“Do they do that or do they have private companies they enter into contracts with?”

The regularly scheduled city council meeting will be held Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. in the council chambers at Selma City Hall.

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