Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Council Approves Contract on Treatment of Wastewater / by Pennsylvania Firm

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Council Approves Contract on Treatment of Wastewater / by Pennsylvania Firm

Article excerpt

Operations at three of Oklahoma City's wastewater treatment plants will be handled by Professional Services Group Inc. of Jenkintown, Pa., following approval Tuesday of a five-year, $32.4 million contract by the Oklahoma City Council.

The contract, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, was approved 7-1 by the council, despite several last-minute changes, which Municipal Counselor Robert D. Allen said were "non-substantive."

The changes, which mainly were intended to clarify the contract, dealt with scope of service, accountability and termination and renewal of the contract.

The contract - projected to save the city more than $24 million over the next five years when compared to current costs for the services - is for operation and maintenance at the city's Deer Creek, Chisholm Creek and North Canadian wastewater treatment plants and sludge disposal at the three plants.

Approval of the contract by the council eliminates the possibility of the city having to make alternate plans for operation of the plants following Jan. 1. The city, through the Oklahoma City Municipal Improvement Authority, already had notified current operators that their contracts would expire at midnight, Dec. 31.

The city's current contracts are with Professional Services Group/Farm Soil Conditioner, a joint venture operating the North Canadian plant; Wastewater Systems Management, which is operating the Deer Creek plant, and Farm Soil Conditioner, which has the sludge disposal contract. The city has been operating the Chisholm Creek plant.

The contract legally is between the Oklahoma City Municipal Improvement Authority and Professional Services Group. The trust approved the contract last week, but trust chairman and Ward 4 Councilman Pete White said he was not willing to sign the contract until the council had concurred with the water trust's approval.

"My philosophy has been that the trust is primarily there for long-term financing, and the council is ultimately responsible for what goes on," he said.

Ward 5 Councilman Jim Scott said he had been ready to vote against the contract, but said he would vote for it, because it was unanimously approved by the water trust.

Ward 3 Councilman Jack Cornett was the only council member voting against the contract, saying he felt it did not conform with the request for proposals and that the city's independent auditing firm, Coopers & Lybrand, had reservations about it.

Mayor Ron Norick, a trustee on the water trust, was absent from Tuesday's council meeting.

One of the major points to come out of the council's discussion of the contract was that certain council members said they would like to see the city, not the contractor's legal counsel, drafting such contracts in the future. …

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