PWSA management company earns performance bonuses
By Jeremy Boren
Published: Friday, April 5, 2013, 2:03 p.m.
A private firm hired last year to run the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority earned some “early wins” that led to a $1.3 million uptick in revenue for the authority and unlocked incentive bonuses for the management firm, officials said on Friday.
“It's really important when you're trying to reorient an organization to have early wins because they build momentum,” Rob Nicholas, vice president of development, said during a meeting with reporters. “We think that's really been accomplished in the first nine months.”
PWSA hired Chicago-based Veolia Water in July at a rate of $150,572 a month, or about $1.8 million a year. The authority had gone about two years without an executive director after Michael Kenney resigned amid a scandal over a water line insurance program that forced customers to participate and pay a fee.
Bringing in a management firm with no political ties to Pittsburgh is part of a larger effort to restore confidence and trust in the authority, said state Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Westwood, chairman of PWSA's seven-member board.
Jim Good, the interim executive director, said customer service call center wait times were halved — from an average of eight minutes to four minutes — and the authority avoided laying off employees from its 270-member workforce, as some unionized employees feared.
Rates did not increase this year, Deasy said.
Nicholas said Veolia worked to change the culture of the authority by inviting employees to share ideas to improve efficiency with Good and other executives over pizza at lunchtime or at a company cookout.
Some employees voiced concerns about Veolia's takeover.
The Pittsburgh Joint Collective Bargaining Committee, a labor union group that represents about 125 PWSA employees, in February rejected contract offers. A representative of the group did not return a call Friday.
Roughly $1 million more in annual revenue came from persuading a new customer in the food processing industry to stop using water wells it drilled and use PWSA's system instead, Good said. He declined to identify the customer, citing a confidentiality agreement, but said the customer will be online Monday.
The authority also generated revenue by enforcing an overlooked fire hydrant line fee on about 1,000 high-capacity commercial and industrial users that have large fire protection systems in their buildings.
Veolia can earn up to $1.5 million in bonuses and 50 percent of any money it saves the authority, according to its contract.
The company said it earned bonuses worth a few hundred thousand dollars. It could not immediately specify the amount but offered to provide figures soon.
PWSA has the option to extend its contract with Veolia by six months in July. Deasy said he would vote to do so.
Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Crosby lifts Penguins over Capitals in last game of road trip
- Stage volunteer dies following collapse at Pine-Richland High School
- Supreme Court ruling to affect few bicycle trails in Pennsylvania
- Top pitching prospect Taillon’s time with Pirates must wait a bit
- Missing hikers found in McConnells Mill State Park
- Hempfield couple charged in thefts
- Fear of building collapse closes Tarentum road
- Penguins notebook: Heralded Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov debuts with Capitals
- ACC Tournament manages to deliver an inherent history lesson