Council approves contract with OMI

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Operations Management International, Inc. will begin operating Sweet Home’s water and wastewater treatment plants on Dec. 1 following approval of a 10-year contract by the City Council on Oct. 10.

The council voted 5-2 to approve the contract. Voting no were Jim Gourley and Dick Hill. Voting yes were Bob McIntire, Tim McQueary, Mayor Craig Fentiman, Rich Rowley and Jim Bean.

“Normally, we stay 20 years-plus,” Gary Young of OMI told the council. “That’s our intent.”

The first year of operations will cost the city a fee of $657,694 with up to a 3-percent increase the second year and up to 4 percent the following years.

The anticipated cost savings to the water and wastewater utilities for the first year is expected to be approximately $50,000, Public Works Director Mike Adams said.

The city may terminate the contract at any time for convenience with at least six months written notice, Adams said. The cost of the termination would be dependent on the length of service.

OMI will purchase and install a sodium hypochlorite system for the wastewater treatment plant, a savings of $20,000 to the city, Adams said. OMI agreed to install it with a 10-year contract. The city would have had to pay for it under a shorter contract.

Under the agreement, OMI is responsible for penalties and fines associated with violations of permit requirements that result from their negligent operations, Adams said.

The council authorized city staff to negotiate with OMI on July 25 following meetings where the council received public input on the decision. McIntire, Hill and Gourley opposed the decision.

Advantages to the city and its citizens include annual savings on operations, improved facility efficiencies, increased experience and expertise and improved regulatory compliance and transfer of some risk to OMI, Adams said.

“Throughout the whole process of considering this partnership there were justifiable concerns regarding the impacts to affected staff,” Adams said. To date, three operators had been offered employment with OMI pending signatures on the contract. One was transferred to the maintenance division.

The two remaining employees, an operator and a manager, if they do not accept employment with OMI, will be provided all applicable “bumping” and “recall” rights available under the current collective bargaining agreement, Adams said.

In other business, the council:

– Approved the vacation of 20 feet of public right-of-way along Quince Street between 52nd and 53rd avenues.

Ten-foot strips will be given back to property owners along each side of the street, leaving a 40-foot right-of-way.

The street is platted but undeveloped.

– Reappointed Britney Price and Tracy Smith to serve on the 2006-07 Youth Advisory Council. For information on how to join the committee, youths may contact City Hall at 367-8969.

– Dedicated six properties into the city’s road system, including one at the end of Clark Mill Road to serve the Santiam River Club; 11th Avenue connecting Poplar and Redwood; two portions of 37th Circle in the Green Subdivision; and 40th and 41st avenues inside the Duck Hollow Subdivision.

– Approved the sale of one Colt AR-15 and three Ruger Mini 14s as surplus. The rifles were used by the Police Department.

– Placed $1,585.75 into the Weddle Bridge Project Account. The Melcher Family, LLC, provided free logging services to the city and forwarded the value from the sale of the trees to the city. Mike Melcher requested that the value of the trees be spent on the rehabilitation of Weddle Bridge.