Reprinted, with permission, from Public Works Financing
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Springfield, MA to Partner with Privates for
Ten or Twenty Year Wastewater Contract

by William Reinhardt

Rejecting a managed competition, Springfield, Mass., this month issued a call for proposals by April 6,1999 (changed from the orignal date of March 26th) from private concessionaires for a 10 or 20-year contract to manage its 67-mgd wastewater system, including sludge disposal and its combined sewer overflow operations.

The city’s Water and Sewer Commission serves 40,000 connections and a population of 250,000. The three commissioners appointed by the mayor have full authority to negotiate and sign a contract under project-specific state enabling legislation.

The request for qualifications/proposals, prepared with help from Eric Petersen of Hawkins, Delafield & Wood, seeks fixed annual fees for major maintenance and repair of the city’s 20-year-old wastewater treatment system, including all sludge disposal.

About one third of the sludge is composted at a privately operated facility Bidders would be obligated to honor the remaining 10 years of that contract and commit to a fixed price for handling the rest of the residuals regardless of any change of law.

The RFP also specifies no layoffs of commission employees without cause for the full term of the contract, and requires equal or better pay and benefits, including an option to improve on the city’s pension plan.

Mandatory capital investment in 11 items worth $4.5 million, largely related to the commission s administrative offices, would be included in the service agreement. That and optional process improvements could be funded privately or through commission borrowing.

The commission will hire technical and financial advisors to assist it in evaluating bids and negotiating a contract, which it expects to sign in November 1999. Camp, Dresser & McKee Inc. has been excluded from that work due to its commercial interests on both the public and private sides of the concession business.