Mayor Andy Cook said the city has received three offers to take over Westfield’s water and wastewater utilities. Because the evaluation team is currently negotiating terms, Cook could not divulge the names of the companies that proposed offers.
The announcement of the best bid package is expected to take place in early September.
Cook said once a memorandum of understanding is made, it will be brought to the city council which will begin the public approval process. During this time, the contract terms will be discussed including why, how, monetary impact, the effects and what the city stands to gain. Cook explained that the process to transfer utilities will be a long one with several community meetings to inform the public before any action by the council takes place.
The city issued a request for proposal for qualified operators to take over the two city utilities earlier this summer. Cook said the move is one many cities across the country are exploring as they balance limited budgets with population growth, infrastructure improvements and stable utility rates for residents.
“Many cities in the Midwest and across the country are faced with meeting the demands of growth,” said Cook. “The City of Westfield is exploring various creative options that will preserve an adequate source of water for the future, address environmental mandates relating to wastewater, solve urgent capital needs resulting from rapid growth, and harness future water rate increases.”
Cook said the city’s goal is to find a way to relieve the financial burden of utility rates while alleviating debt and addressing much needed improvements through the city simultaneously.
“With enormous development of our city on the horizon, outsourcing management or ownership of certain water and wastewater assets could enable the city to plan for our growth more efficiently,” he said. “We have to consider the recent change in legislation regarding aquifer control and how this could affect the future of Westfield utility services.”