Mayor proposes major reforms for S&WB - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Mayor proposes major reforms for S&WB

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Mayor Mitch Landrieu proposes a series of sweeping reforms for the Sewerage and Water Board.  The mayor says residents have long complained about operations at the city agency.

"For too long the Sewerage and Water Board has been hurting. It has historically been under-funded and consequently, in some areas, in disarray," Landrieu said. Now, he wants to fix that.

One of the proposals Landrieu has is to reduce the size of the board of directors. He wants to go from 13 people down to nine by getting rid of the three City Council members who currently sit on the board and one citizen. The new board will be made up of the mayor, two members from the Board of Liquidation and six citizens, nominated by local university presidents.

Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson commented, "The fact that the appointees will be vetted through the Board of Liquidation and college presidents gives it transparency."

The mayor wants to improve both transparency and accountability within the agency. He explained, "As it relates to accountability, the Sewerage and Water Board will develop a Sewerage and Water Board stat program, like we have with NolaStat, which would report at operations meetings to track the performance of the Sewerage and Water Board and its customer service."

These reforms aren't a done deal yet.  Both state law and the City Charter must be changed. The reform bills will go to the state legislature next year. If they pass, then the City Council gets a vote before the matter comes before Orleans Parish residents for a vote.

State Senator J.P. Morrell says this is something the city needs, explaining, "Business consumers as well as residential consumers throughout our city need to feel like this is a board that is going to take its job seriously and really is one step further in fighting that culture of corruption that has tainted the city."

Mayor Landrieu says the time to reform the agency is now. "This can has been kicked down the road by generations of New Orleanians and it has put the city in a very vulnerable place. If we wait, we will risk a failure or the situation is going to get worse. It's not going to get better."

One of the City Council members who will be taken off the board if the reforms pass is Stacy Head.  She says she applauds the reforms and thinks they are necessary for the board to function most effectively.

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