Ocean Springs Aldermen vote not to privatize

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - After much concern and debate, the Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen voted late Tuesday night not to privatize any city department. The news that the city was considering privatizing its Public Works Department had many city workers and citizens concerned. Many of them filled the meeting room at Tuesday's Board of Aldermen meeting to make their concerns known.

Several of the employees and management spoke before aldermen and Mayor Connie Moran about their concerns. One of the many things workers were worried about was their retirement.

"I started out here when I was 18-years-old looking for a retirement and this is why I'm here is for a retirement. You got so many of us that's been there 16, 18, 20 years that's looking for that retirement," said public works employee Thomas Wallace.

Alderman Matt McDonnell listed seven reasons to privatize, but argued only one of those reasons made it worthy to hire a company - reducing expenses.

Public Works Director Andre Kaufman said many of his employees had already started looking for other jobs.

"We're not here to pressure you into anything. We're simply here to say look at the other side," Kaufman.

He asked city leaders to take a hard look at the impact of privatizing.

"I've got six people who work for me that worked for private companies from other cities and they say horror stories," said Kaufman.

Some residents also spoke about their experiences with public works. They noted the city's reliability and flexibility when public works is called. They feared that experience would change if a private company were to take over.

"To me, privatizing a major part of your city government is major, and I think that should be brought before the people," said Ocean Spring's resident Tim Emery.

Aldermen said they will still look for ways to cut expenses and improve efficiency, but privatization is not the answer.

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