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No; the City is not pursuing “privatization,” instead we are seeking to contract with a company to manage day-to-day operational functions, while the City continues to maintain complete control over the direction, policies, plans, finances and rates associated with the utility. The City is not and has never considered selling the utility. Because the City will continue to own and manage the utility, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) will not set any of the rates or policies of NMB Water.
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No, just as the City handled contracting Sanitation services in December 2015, we will require any firm to transition every single current hourly employee provided that they pass standard employment screens (e.g. drug, background, physical).
Current salaried management and salaried support staff will be evaluated to determine if they are a good fit within the new organization. Current salaried employees may end up in different roles or positions with the new company or remain with the City. Every effort will be made to have the selected firm retain as many salaried employees as possible.
Regardless of whether the position is hourly or salaried, the City will ensure in contract negotiations that salaries are not cut; additionally, certain salaries may increase as we work to ensure the former employees are at market competitive rates.
Former employees will be offered similar benefits (e.g. medical, dental, etc.) including a 401(k) retirement plan in lieu of their current City pension. A 401(k) is a portable and flexible benefit under the employee’s control.
Absolutely not. The City will continue to provide oversight, leadership and direction of NMB Water from City review/audit staff, NMB Water executive management, the City Manager’s Office, review by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and ultimate control by the Mayor/City Council. This includes determination of all current/future water and sewer rates and fees.
Not at all, in fact the purpose of this endeavor is to ensure our valued customers receive better service at the same or better rates. The City’s contract will stipulate superior service requirements and guidelines that the contractor must adhere to as well as industry-standard best practices and performance measurements that will be constantly evaluated by the City to ensure the highest quality customer service experience.
Definitely not, our contractual terms will require stringent daily laboratory testing of drinking water quality to ensure it continues to meet and/or exceeds all regulatory requirements of the Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The City’s Strategic Plan, developed and unanimously adopted in 2014, directed that a comprehensive review of NMB Water was a high priority. Consequently, the City conducted an Operational Assessment. This assessment was conducted by a highly respected independent third party firm, Eisenhardt Group, Inc., not affiliated with any contract operations firms and with a demonstrated track record of recommending either continued municipal operation of utilities or private sector partnerships depending upon the specific situation and conditions.
The results of this assessment were presented to the PUC and City Council in April 2016 and concluded that NMB Water was operating very poorly in relation to our utility peers. Both the assessment and presentations are available. A condition assessment of utility infrastructure also corroborated that NMB Water is in urgent need of improvements in a number of areas, creating significant risk for the City and for our customers.
In order to ensure that we continue to provide safe, reliable water at affordable rates for years to come, a recommendation was made to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for operational partnership services for NMB Water (including Customer Services). This recommendation was accepted on April 19, 2016, with the passage of Resolution 2016-22. The City used an RFQ method for procurement rather than a Request for Proposal (RFP) method because the primary consideration in the selection was our commitment to attaining the highest standards of quality rather than simply seeking out the low bidder.
RFQ 2016-08 only sought highly qualified firms which demonstrated an outstanding track record of:
Any firm not meeting these standards would have been immediately disqualified.
Yes. please see the opinion from the Executive Director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust Inquiry 17-78 (PDF).
All savings realized from the contract will belong to the City, specifically NMB Water’s two Enterprise Funds resulting in long-term lower rates, than would otherwise occur without resolving the issues identified in the Eisenhardt Group report, for the utility's customers.
The City Commission, based on the Eisenhardt Group report, decided to direct the City Manager to develop a Request for Qualifications to solicit qualifications from qualified parties for a partnership program for the Public Utilities and Customer Service Departments (now collectively termed ‘NMB Water’).
The City's poor performance over several decades is documented in the Eisenhardt Group Operational Assessment Report (PDF).
Unfortunately, that report demonstrated that the City was failing significantly in almost every single facet of the operation. The City does not have the requisite resources and qualified managers and employees to achieve success. For a specific discussion of the City’s options and the consultant’s ultimate recommendation, please refer to pages 121-133 of the Eisenhardt Group Operational Assessment Report (PDF).
Section 287.055, Florida Statutes, the “Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act” (“CCNA”), governs the procurement process. Specifically, subsection (5) Competitive Negotiation, governs the negotiation process requiring that negotiation with the 2nd ranked firm can only occur if the City is unable to negotiate a satisfactory contract with the 1st ranked firm and those negotiations are terminated.
Yes; the City complied with all notice requirements. Please refer to the discussion of the procurement process starting at approximately the 18 minute mark during the April 3, 2017 Special Meeting Presentation or view the City Commission PowerPoint presentation (PDF).
All proposers were allowed equal access to a CONSIDERABLE volume of data regarding the current status of the Utility. All Requests for Additional Information (RAIs) and public records requests from the proposers were fully responded to and the information was shared with all proposers. It's important to note that this solicitation was concerned with qualifications and not with a price bid, so the focus was on demonstrable qualifications exhibited in other municipal utility operation contracts. None of the proposers were given a tour of the facility during the solicitation.
NMB Water is committed to providing the absolute finest utility service for ALL of our regional utility customers; we believe that this necessary operational transition will aid us in achieving that goal. Information will be frequently updated at the NMBWater website. If you have any additional questions, please contact us at 305-957-3657 or Email NMB Water.