Currently Andrew Greene handles our water and wastewater treatment plant. Although Greene received his licensing, it can be difficult for an owner, like the Town of White Springs, to control operational costs, manage complex regulatory requirements and yet retain qualified staff.
There are companies who have solved staffing compliance and operational challenges through full contract operations at multiple municipal and industrial water and wastewater treatment plants, public works departments, and private groundwater treatment systems across the country.
Over time, treatment system infrastructure deteriorates and regulatory requirements change, leaving operators with a gap that can be very hard to bridge. Contract operations should begin with a full assessment of the existing system to identify and prioritize improvements. Then a plan should be updated for standard procedures, short-term fixes and upgrades for the future, all while providing the Town with a predictable budget.
One of the major challenges in the water and wastewater professions is finding and keeping qualified staff. We know Andrew Green will remain under the current administration for years because he is a special person, not necessarily with special skills or efficiency. Operations professionals are aging, the technology skills needed are changing, and not enough young people are entering the profession. So this could end up a lucrative business for those who wish to be independent contractors as well.
Companies which are in the business of providing contract staffing, assist them with earning their certification, providing them with a clear career path and support them with a culture that rewards continuous improvement. They also draw on the experience of hundreds of certified operators across the country, backed by the knowledge and skills of engineers, scientists and regulatory experts to quickly tackle the most challenging operational issues and keep treatment plants running efficiently. Most importantly the necessity of keeping plants running efficiently and in full compliance.
When we look at the current benefits and salary of Greene which is somewhere between $32-40,000 yearly, the job in itself probably takes less than two hours daily. Now looking at what Plant Operators A, B or C are paid it is somewhere between $17.79-$29.46 an hour and our systems are virtually automated. Now based upon 1,040 hours (5 days a week/4 hours a day) that would be $30,638 on the high side. But, in Hamilton Councy most operators work on the low side so that would mean a cost for the Town of $18,502, for which most localities, including I believe Live Oak pay $18,000 a year. That means no FICA tax, no benefits, no health insurance costs and increases and no workers compensation. Everything is based upon contract and I have a sample of a contract below
Furthermore, as an independent contractor, the Town would have more say in the quality and efficiency of the operator. And if the operator does not perform as the contract stipulates, the contract may be terminated. Of cores with the case of Greene, if Townsend could handle the job for one-half day and his duties as Town manager for the balance of the day, I guess I would question why it takes Greene so long to perform his job. Let’s face it the Town is not big on efficiency and Greene for one half of the day could perform other jobs such as reading meters and working at the satellites when there is something wrong.
Karin for the blog