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GARDEN GROVE | Community News Focus

City to Invite Plans for Privatizing Water

September 26, 1996|CATHY WERBLIN

The city plans to solicit proposals from private companies interested in taking over the maintenance and operation of the public water department, a move that makes Garden Grove one of a few Orange County cities examining privatizing the management of a utility.

A formal request for proposals will go out next week, and companies will have 45 days to submit their concepts on taking over the water operation. Four outside operators are expected to respond.

City officials began studying a public-private partnership earlier this year when council members faced millions of dollars in budget shortfalls. In an effort to bring more revenue into the city, council members discussed contracting out fire and emergency services, staff reductions, and the possible sale or transfer of its largest assets, including the water operation.

Council members stressed that requesting proposals from outside companies does not mean a decision has been made. The operation, which has 34,000 accounts with an annual operating budget of about $19 million, employs 47 full-time and five part-time workers.

Terry Lane, water services manager, said requesting proposals for maintenance and operations agreements from outside companies will give officials an idea of what can be earned by privatizing assets. Agreements can be worked out that potentially won't compromise water quality, facilities or rates, he added.

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