It’s Back to Business for the District

smilies-110650__480Things seem to be moving right along at the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District, and I couldn’t be happier.

First and most important, the District’s Lead Operator, Jered Primicerio, won an award.  It’s quite an honor, and quite an achievement.

Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District plant operator Jered Primicerio has received the David B. Lee Wastewater Award from the Florida Water and Pollution Control Operator’s Association.

The award has been given annually since 1964 to one plant operator in the state.

Congratulations to Jered Primicerio and the District.

This is a reminder of what the District is supposed to be about.  While the board and the General Manager were getting bogged down in silly minutia, the District’s technical staff were quietly and, very effectively, doing their jobs.

The end result of all that hard work is a clean marine environment.  Wastewater issues only tend to hit the paper when something goes wrong.  The public may not realize that there is a lot that has to go right – every single day.  And it doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes hard work and dedication.

In other news, it looks like the District is clicking along in other areas as well.  The interim General Manager, Peter Rosasco, is a no-nonsense “git-er-done” type.  And that’s what the District really needs to move on to the next phase.

Here’s a snip about the search for a new General Manager.

The Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District commissioners last week didn’t
formalize or wordsmith the two-page general manager job description and requirements, but they did give staff direction to pare it down and run an employment ad.

The next big issue is IT.  The District is a small utility.  Its ratepayers have some of the highest monthly bills in the state.  On top of that, they’re still paying their monthly assessments.  And, as I have repeatedly pointed out, they pay more for their sewer system than just about everyone else in the Florida Keys.  It’s just not feasible to support a full IT staff.

IT is big field.  You’re unlikely to find all the expertise needed in three or four people.  One  solution is out-sourcing.

Two IT consulting groups presented their credentials and offered their services to the district.  EssentialNet and Codified Consulting Corp. pledged similar offerings with 24-hour monitoring and support. According to Rosasco, both companies are fully capable of being the district’s outsourced IT provider.

The District is exploring its options and that is smart.

Commissioner Steve Gibbs said either company would be cheaper than former employee Butkiewicz’s $90,000 salary and questioned if the district needs an in-house full-time IT employee.

I agree that the outsourcing option will be more cost-effective.  However, I do believe that the District should have at least one in-house IT employee.  There needs to be somebody with in-depth, hands on, day-to-day knowledge of the District’s IT issues so that they can effectively communicate with the IT services company.  It would also be very helpful to have a knowledgeable GIS professional on staff if they don’t already have one.  That’s my opinion anyhow.

Salary, as always, should be based on skills and experience.  The position, and the salary that goes with it, should be matched to the District needs.

“The district is in a precarious situation with Sewercare,” said Ernesto Milan, owner of Codified Consulting Group. He said his company is capable of supporting the infrastructure of the custom software but ultimately not the program itself.

Former manager Christian developed the program specifically to fit the district’s needs.  Both consultants called into question how long the program would continue to run without any updates or adjustments.

Milan initially suggested retaining Christian to support it, which some board members dismissed.  He then recommended that the district look into viable
boxed software to replace it.

Rosasco, directed by the board, agreed to have the two companies provide more comprehensive proposals now that the two are aware of the district’s custom

This is another thing that should have been addressed in the past couple of years, that just…wasn’t.

SewerCare accomplished a number of great things for the District.  And since it was written in-house, it was cheap.  In my experience, its performance is not 100% reliable, but not bad either.  Others have reported having issues with it.  While SewerCare is okay, I think the board’s decision to move on to a supported product was a wise one.

Here’s what SewerCare achieved.

  1. It replaced a clunky, old Access database that tracked customer tie-ins.
  2. It replaced a bewildering array of Excel spreadsheets that tracked assessments.
  3. It instituted a tracking system for customer complaints.

At the time SewerCare was written, the District was still using Quickbooks for its financial needs.  Quickbooks works fine for a small business, but as the District grew so did its needs.  And Quickbooks simply did not have the capability to fill those needs.  At the time, the District wasn’t ready to dive into new financial software.  Too much going on.  SewerCare filled the gap.

Since then, the District has purchased BS&A, which is a financial software written specifically for local governments.  They’ve also got CityWorks for asset management and work order tracking.  In other words, I believe the District has already invested in the software they need to replace SewerCare.  They just need someone with the experience and expertise to properly deploy it.  Perhaps, this is where the IT services firm, guided by District staff, can really move things forward.

There’s a whole lot more in the article I linked to above.  District counsel replacement.  File management software.  Tie-ins.  Waivers.  Federal funding.  I’m just very happy to see all the progress that’s been made recently.  This is what capable management looks like – leadership that can focus and unite on solutions.

Onward and upward.

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2 Responses to It’s Back to Business for the District

  1. Chris Wright says:

    City Works had exactly what is needed for tracking all of those things before Paul Christian pulled the plug because City Works at that incarnation wouldn’t run on I-pads. The next upgrade would have taken care of this issue. But he built Sewercare instead after all of the expense of purchasing City works Hard and Software.


    • M_Blank says:

      Hi there. Yup. There was City Works, which works just fine for utilities all over the country, but was terrible according to PC. Then there was BS&A. Then they wound up with Sewercare, which is a home-made, unsupported product. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. But if it breaks, who fixes it?


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