Privatization of plants to require public's OK in Omaha

Nov. 10, 2000
A proposed City Charter amendment calling for the public to approve any privatization of Omaha wastewater treatment plants appeared to have passed handily Tuesday.

By RICK RUGGLES WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Nov. 08, 2000 (Omaha World-Herald)—A proposed City Charter amendment calling for the public to approve any privatization of Omaha wastewater treatment plants appeared to have passed handily Tuesday.

Votes for the proposal topped those against by far more than a 2- 1 margin.

The amendment says 51 percent of Omaha voters would have to go along with any proposal to contract out the management or operation of the city's two sewage-treatment plants.

City Councilman Paul Koneck was the primary proponent, but the council as a whole backed it.

"All along, I had confidence in Omaha voters, and I congratulate Omaha voters in voting to protect their investment," Koneck said Tuesday night.

The proposal had the backing of Nebraska Public Employees Local 251, a key union for Omaha's city government workers.

Koneck had said he was concerned that Mayor Hal Daub would try to privatize the sewage-treatment plants.

While Daub said he didn't favor privatizing Omaha's sewage- treatment plants, he maintained that city leaders should not pass tough, technical decisions onto the public.

Omaha's treatment plants are in the midst of an efficiency effort designed to reduce their employee numbers from about 205 to 169. The plants are to remain under city control.

Daub said with that efficiency effort already in place, privatization "will never really come into play." The charter amendment, he said, was unnecessary.

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