City administrators at the Wednesday night committee meeting expressed no immediate objections to the changes suggested by O’Connell.
“We have to contemplate these changes and we’ll get back with a more formal response,” said Dougherty.
“I agree with your suggestions,” Eichenwald told O’Connell. “I’m interested in giving this voluntary committee as much power as possible. They need to be consulted.”
Eichenwald wants the city “to codify in some way that the advisory committee is an integral part of the process. I’m concerned they are going to be pushed aside when there’s a disagreement. Or they won’t even be asked.
She does not want the citizens advisory committee to become like the city’s Environmental Advisory Council, which she charged has not been consulted on environmental issues by the city.
O’Connell told city administrators: “You’re going to meet with us. You’re not going to push me away.”
But Eichenwald said something must be done to ensure the committee will exist for the entire 50 years of the LCA lease, so it does not disappear “and the citizens will have no voice.”
Eichenwald also said: “I want the committee that we’re creating to function as the ombudsman.”
Council member Joe Davis, the third member of the public works committee, said protection of jobs was one of the administration’s top goals throughout the sewer/water lease negotiations.
“The bottom line is there is no one without a job,” said Amy Trapp, the city’s new human resources director. She said no one has been displaced or put on a lay-off list, adding people laid off in the past will be invited to take new jobs that have opened in the city.
Trapp said the city’s water department had 76 union employees and 25 non-union employees. She said all 25 non-union employees were offered jobs by LCA. “LCA saw value in every single person and spoke highly of the quality of the people who worked for us in the water department.” She said all but one of those 25 people accepted the new jobs.
Of the 76 union employees, she said 61 took jobs with LCA, 10 bid into other city jobs and five chose “to bump.” She said only one of those five bumped another person out of a job and that bumped person took in another position in the city. “That was a huge win for us,” said Trapp.
Dougherty said laid-off people will be put back to work in the city’s parks, streets, building codes and building maintenance departments.
“Thank you again,” said Davis. “Great job.”