Louisville Utility and Public Works Advisory Group

Mayor Greg Fischer named a seven-member advisory group to examine the future of the Metropolitan Sewer District.  The advisory group reviewed operations of MSD, Louisville Water Company and Metro Public Works to determine synergies between the three to improve services and reduce costs.

The group’s members are:

  • Wendell Wright, retired from Qk4 engineering firm and the former Director of Jefferson County Public Works and former Chief of Operations for the Jefferson County Judge/Executive. He brings expertise in government, Public Works, the environment and development;
  • John Huber, past president of the Water Company, with expertise in utility management;
  • Pete Mahurin, senior vice president of The Mahurin Group and chairman of Hilliard Lyons, with expertise in finance;
  • Al Cornish, a citizen and representative of the city at large;
  • Joe Wise, business manager at Greater Louisville Building & Construction Trades Council, with expertise in labor issues;
  • Scott Brinkman, former State Representative and an attorney, with expertise in legal issues and governance; and
  • Diane Cornwell, founder of StarFish Consulting, with expertise in business and tax issues.

The task force — named the Louisville Utility and Public Works Advisory Group — worked with a national consultant with experience in utility management and operations. The review included, among other things, identifying industry trends in other cities among water, wastewater and public works. The task force also examined potential partnerships and a possible consolidation between MSD and Louisville Water.

After reviewing the Public Utilities Task Force report and having gathered input from a wide range of citizens, Mayor Greg Fischer announced on July 24, 2012 that the city will pursue a phased consolidation of Louisville Water and the Metropolitan Sewer District.

A combined utility will bring greater efficiencies, improve customer service and create a coordinated effort to provide clean water to Louisville.  “The ultimate goal is to deliver to our citizens stronger, leaner and more efficient public utilities,” Fischer said at a joint meeting of the MSD and Louisville Water boards.

The mayor asked both boards to conduct the necessary due diligence especially in the areas of financial, legal and environmental issues. “We need to fully understand the potential liabilities associated with consolidation,” Fischer said.

Pending the due diligence, the phased consolidation will occur over the next four to five years. The future structure is yet to be determined (two separate agencies in a holding company; one company, etc.).

“The goal is to have no employee layoffs or downsizing, but natural attrition could help if any workforce reductions are needed,” Fischer said.

Greg Heitzman, president of Louisville Water and interim director of MSD, will remain leader of both organizations. The two boards, working with Fischer, will develop a plan for the future leadership structure.

The Public Utilities Task Force, appointed in January by Fischer, concluded that after consolidation, savings could range from $14 million to $24 million annually.

For ratepayers, the phased merger will mean no interruption in service. The goal is that, with increased efficiencies, MSD and Louisville Water can contain costs.
Mayor's Advisory Group Briefing May 2012.

For minutes and presentations, visit www.msdlouky.org