Meaford's ongoing Service Delivery Review (SDR) initiative has identified the potential for cost savings by bringing the operation of the municipal waste water treatment plant in house.
Currently the municipality contracts the operation of the Wastewater Treatment Plant and related pump stations to the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA). The facility has been operated by contract since 1971, and the current five year contract expires on December 31 of this year. A staff report to council suggests that the operation could be handled by the municipality.
“Staff have undertaken an internal analysis of the current contract with OCWA and the possibility of combining the operation of the Wastewater Treatment Plant with our current operations. This analysis has demonstrated there are cost savings and operational efficiencies to be recognized by implementing this initiative,” advised the report to council.
The report recommends that council approve the hiring of two new full time staff members effective January 1, 2018 to replace the OCWA staff, and to direct staff to update bylaws for the integration of the water and wastewater facilities within the Environmental Services department.
“It is our opinion that there are no adverse implications to the Municipality proceeding with the recommended approach. We do note that the two OCWA operators are Meaford residents and they are encouraged to apply for the two new positions,” noted the report to council. “In addition, we note that there is the ability to redeploy an existing surplus vehicle to the Wastewater Plant, saving the upfront capital costs of a vehicle. As far as staffing, the operation of the Wastewater Treatment plant can be operated with 1.5 FTE (full time equivalent) versus the 1.9 currently allocated by OCWA. By hiring two FTEs, the additional 0.5 FTE can be added to our current operations to reduce overtime and perform additional tasks. Foreman positions will be able to assume some additional tasks such as Project Management of various capital upgrades and the additional reporting to assist the QMS Rep.”
Representatives from OCWA attended the April 24 meeting of council to make a presentation, and asked that council pause before doing away with the long-standing relationship. They also suggested that some cost savings have been found that can be passed along to the municipality.
After hearing from the OCWA representatives, council tabled the report from staff and delayed making a decision until OCWA has had an opportunity to provide municipal staff with their revised costing and proposal, and for staff to report back to council at the first council meeting in June.