Ocean Springs looks at privatizing public works

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs officials want cost savings. That's why Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran says the city is currently in the early stages of looking at privatizing their public works department. As we found out, that move would save the city thousands of dollars.

Public works crews in Ocean Springs have various duties including servicing 8,000 water and sewer customers and 177 miles of streets within the city limits 24 hours a day.

While the public works department is run by the city, officials are mulling over the idea of using a private company to run the city's public works while still keeping all their employees.

"It's something that our finance committee and several aldermen are very interested in looking at, but currently we don't have any specific proposal. We are just in initial discussions, but the main thing is that we want to ensure our employees will not lose their jobs, but offer the opportunity to continue and still have a comparable retirement package," said Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran.

The mayor says privatizing public works would save the city $125,000 to $200,000 just during the first year. The board of aldermen would ultimately have to approve privatizing which would be a first for the city. According to Moran, several companies are being looked at, like the one presently used in the City of Gautier.

"This particular company is Clear Water Solutions, who has been over the City of Gautier. I've talked to the mayor and several councilmen there in Gautier. They are very, very pleased with the results, as well as most of their employees that we know of," said Moran.

Moran says one company the city has spoken to has guaranteed that each public works employee would be offered their job along with additional perks like insurance plans, advancements, bonuses and raises.

"This is new ground for us. So like I said not all of our aldermen have even had the opportunity yet to meet with this company or perhaps with a couple of others. We're just now learning how this process goes," said Moran.

The mayor says the city still has to get the facts and figures straight, as well as, study the advantages. She says there is no guarantee that they will follow through with privatizing public works.

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