NEW ORLEANS -- Mayor Mitch Landrieu's announced his plans for sweeping reforms of the Sewerage and Water Board at City Hall today.
Landrieu's plan would reduce the board from 13 members to nine, removing the three City Council members and the person appointed by the mayor.
"The new board would include the Mayor serving as its President, 2 members from the Board of Liquidation appointed by the Mayor, and 6 citizens who each have expertise in at least one of the following areas: finance/ accounting, business administration, engineering, law, public health, or a consumer/ community advocate," said a statement from the mayor's office.
The mayor would appoint six citizens from a list of nominees from local university leaders. The length of the Sewerage and Water Board members' terms would also be reduced from nine years to six years, according to the new reforms by Landrieu.
Landrieu is calling for the creation of a public "S&WB STAT" meeting -- similar to other public meetings like BlightStat, which tracks blight reduction in the city -- to improve accountabilty, transparency and performance.
“As it currently stands, it is clear to me that it does not have what it needs in terms of infrastructure and funding to serve the city of New Orleans. Post-Katrina, the Sewerage and Water Board’s network of underground pipes is leaking at least 40 percent of its water and the East Bank of the city has faced multiple boil water advisories because of catastrophic outages at the power plant,” said Landrieu.
The Sewerage and Water Board has proposed increasing rates 10 percent annually over eight years to upgrade the city's water system.
Also among Landrieu's reform proposal is a change to the contracting process, proposing "that S&WB memorialize good government contracting processes through a policy change stating that S&WB must abide by Executive Order MJL 10-05 on Professional Services Contracting Reform. This will ensure that a competitive selection procedure is established for the procurement and award of professional service contracts. Additionally, all meetings of selection committees are open pursuant to the open meetings law."
For the proposal to become permanent in 2013, the mayor's office released a timeline:
- March 8 – deadline to advertise twice for each proposed State law change
- April 8 – filing deadline for State law changes and start of 2013 Regular Legislative Session
- July – once Governor signs bill, introduce City Council ordinance to call for an election
- July 17 – deadline for State Bond Commission proposition
- August – State Bond Commission Meeting
- September – voting changes that are subject to an election must be approved by United States Department of Justice (the restructuring of board composition qualifies)
- October 19 – Citywide election on Charter Changes (must be at least 90 days after Council ordinance is introduced).