Utility Partners will not renew contract to manage Moss Point's public works department

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - The company that had a plan to turn things around in Moss Point is calling it quits. Utility Partners Incorporated, the private company which runs the Public Works Department, decided not to renew its contract with the city.

"We hate to leave, and we have been here for 18 months."

Project Manager Mike Bohlke admits it was extremely hard for Utility Partners to give up running the Moss Point Public Works Department because the company was making steady improvements in the city.

"We have completed roughly 56-hundred work orders. We have completed over 26-hundred as of June of this year, that includes water, streets, and that includes gas," Bohlke said about the company's accomplishments in the city.

WLOX obtained a copy of the resignation letter Utility Partners sent to the mayor of Moss Point.  It outlines several ongoing problems in the two page letter. The company said some members of the Board of Alderman challenged the work being done in the city and there was very little trust between both parties.

"I think we felt like that would be a problem in the future."

Another issue, the company had a hard time getting liability insurance for the natural gas system it was supervising.

"It has been documented that there is a 52 percent gas loss in city. Due to this extremely amount of gas loss in the city, our liability insurance is no longer availability to us."

"Utility Partners voiced a lot of concerns about a number of different issues, which I think are relevant issues that we are going to address. Rome was not built overnight," Mayor Aniece Liddell said.

Moss Point's mayor said all current employees will not lose their jobs and service will not drop due to this sudden pull out.  She also said the city is now considering hiring a civil engineer to run the department instead of outsourcing.

"We are not looking to hire outside workers because we have good people working for us."

Project Manager Mike Bohlke said Utility Partners also recommended a plan the city can follow to improve its aging equipment to help boost revenue. The company was on a month-to-month contract with the city that will expire at the end of August.

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