H2O Innovations takes over Stadtwerke August 1st | news
Beginning August 1st, a private Gulf Coast company will be conducting public works in Laurel.
H2O Innovation Operation & Maintenance, LLC won $ 2,096,096 for a one-year contract to maintain and operate the city’s roads, drainage and equipment workshop for the public works facility. Laurel City Council unanimously accepted the offer at its last meeting.
The company’s offer was nearly $ 183,000 less than Infrastructure Solutions’, and as a bonus, H2O offered to pave part of the parking lot and install fences on the public construction site for free, said Kris Reimann, a former urban engineer at Gulfport, whose company Engineering Xcellence helps with the transition from public to private.
“It will take a lot of hard work to get going (by August 1),” Reimann said, but the company is up to the challenge, H2O executives Brian Nelson and Bobby Knesal told the council.
“We expect to be a big part of the community,” said Nelson, and Knesal added, “We have great relationships with our customers. We appreciate the opportunity. ”
Founded in Gulfport in 2006, the company manages more than 100 public works, fleet maintenance and utilities across North America. The primary Operations & Maintenance office is still in Gulfport, but there are regional offices in five other states. It is the only company in the state that is a certified public works company.
“We’re big enough to provide Laurel with the technical program management and financial resources necessary to succeed, and we’re experienced enough to have a track record of excellence,” Knesal wrote in a letter to Mayor Johnny Magee. “H2O Innovation is also agile and small enough to react quickly to changing project requirements and to ensure that your city is always observed at the highest level. The hallmark of our company is excellent customer service, which is made possible through frequent open and honest communication. Your project deserves and will get our best. ”
A committee selected by Magee rated the three companies that submitted bids, and H2O Innovations had the lowest bid and the highest rating, scoring 491 out of a possible 500 on its rating scale. Infrastructure systems were rated with 371 points.
“We are thrilled with the response and customer service we will receive,” said Councilor George Carmichael. “This was the result of a great tour on behalf of the mayor.”
The company will be entitled to use all vehicles and equipment currently owned by the city under the long, detailed contract that covers specific duties and personnel matters – including provisions that allow long-term employees to take their state retirement to continue.
“There will be an annual satisfaction survey,” Reimann told the council, and the company will set benchmark standards for all work and maintenance that is not yet in place.
In April the council voted unanimously in favor of privatization.
The department had been understaffed for months, Magee said at the time.
Privatization could also save the city headaches.
“Right now we’re about six months behind on some projects because of a lack of public workers,” said Magee. The department now has about 20 employees, but it should have about 35.
The city privatized its water supply with Suez years ago and hired WastePro to start collecting garbage this year.
Crews from other departments have been working to fill in the gaps – and potholes and other problems – for public works. This has delayed routine work and projects that are in progress.
Magee and Carmichael said the staff shortage was a direct result of unemployment benefits being higher than wages in some cases, so people weren’t working.
“The city has done everything possible to keep the city service going,” said Carmichael.