Alexandria, La. (Jan. 17, 2020) — In the City of Alexandria’s Transition Plan, released in August 2019, one recommendation made by the transition team was that the city “hire a third-party consultant to assess critical city utility infrastructure and develop a long-term plan for key assets and operations, with a focus on risk management and cost controls for utility operations (particularly water and wastewater functions).”
As a next step in that process, the administration has proposed hiring a communications consultant from Ruston with a background in energy and utility issues to help the city identify and select a qualified third-party organization to conduct an independent assessment of the city’s utility infrastructure.
“Our proposal to the City Council has attracted a great deal of attention from the public and the media, which is leading to a great deal of speculation and concern,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “We are committed to being transparent with this process. I think it is important that, based on some of the things we are hearing, I clarify some points in order to make sure there are no misunderstandings about this important issue.”
First, Hall notes the recommendation to conduct an assessment was developed by a panel of nine well-known Alexandria citizens who volunteered to serve as part of the transition planning process. “I support conducting an independent, third-party assessment of the utility system, as a starting point, so the citizens of Alexandria can understand the long-term costs and benefits of our assets,” Hall said. “And I believe it is important to look and see if there might be ways to provide an adequate reliable services more efficiently and at a lower cost.”
The proposed communications consultant would not participate in the assessment, Hall stressed, and could aid the city in communicating the results and any recommendations or options that were identified. In all cases, the City Council would have to approve any actions on ideas or recommendations generated by the assessment.
Hall said the city’s audit, dated April 30, 2019, notes the “sale of utilities is fairly consistent, but there is no trend of growth.” Previous administrations have conducted similar assessments, and Hall feels it is in the best interest of consumers to have an updated review.
“My goal, and I believe my responsibility as Mayor, is to ensure the citizens of Alexandria have robust, reliable services at a cost they can afford,” Hall said. “If the current system is the best way to meet those needs, then that is great. If changes can be made that make the system more efficient, more sustainable for the long-term and more affordable, I believe the citizens of Alexandria should know that and have a voice in how their utility services are supplied. After all, they are the ones paying for it.”
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