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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Firm Recommended to Audit Sewer System

April 13, 1999

LOS ANGELES — Officials recommended Monday that the city pay $497,000 to audit its waste water system, which San Fernando Valley residents have long complained overcharges them.

City Council members Joel Wachs and Cindy Miscikowski recommended that Black & Veatch, a management consulting firm, be selected from seven competing bidders to conduct the audit.

Four others submitted lower bids for the whole contract, but a panel of city analysts earlier recommended Black & Veatch because of the firm's proposal, experience and lower hourly rate. If the full council agrees, the company will compare expenses, operations and rates of Los Angeles' waste water system with those of 25 other privately and publicly run sewage treatment systems throughout the country. Auditors have been asked to recommend ways to improve efficiency for the city system.

Los Angeles operates the third-largest waste water treatment system in the United States, serving a population of more than 4 million people with an annual budget of $635 million. City officials are planning to spend more than $1 billion in the next few years to replace aging sewer pipes.

North Hollywood resident Ivan Shinkle, who has sued the city, charging that sewer rates are excessive, said he is hopeful that the audit will result in the city lowering sewer service charges.

"I'm fairly confident they are overcharging," he said. "Assuming there are inefficiencies, which there are, the regulations state any surplus has to be held over so the rate can be lowered the next year."

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