MSD working hard to gain, keep public’s trust

To the editor

Since March 2003 when five new members were appointed to its six-person Board of Trustees, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has worked hard to restore the public’s confidence in the district’s leadership and fiscal accountability.

In pursuit of that goal, MSD has instituted a comprehensive ethics policy covering all district personnel; streamlined the number of departments from 12 to seven; implemented an extensive series of recommendations from a 2002 state audit; and put in place a new management team.

As highlighted in an Aug. 18 Call News-papers article, MSD is in the third year of a 20-year, $3.7 billion capital improvement program. This program is designed to address the collection and treatment cap-abilities of our St. Louis community’s en-tire sanitary sewer system and to ensure fu-ture compliance with state and federal en-vironmental regulations.

This complex and massive program — unprecedented in our region’s history — outstrips MSD’s in-house capabilities. The dollars that we are spending now on outside consultants provide needed planning, design, engineering and construction management services.

For the district to provide these services through in-house resources would require the hiring of hundreds of additional em-ployees.

Over the next few years, as the program moves rapidly into increased construction, these additional employees would no longer be needed. Hiring, training and then laying off hundreds of employees over a short time span would incur additional costs well be-yond that which will be spent on outside professionals to provide the same services.

After careful examination of these and other factors, the district has determined that the current use of outside professional services is the most cost-effective use of the funds entrusted to MSD by the public.

The entire district is proud of the pro-gress we have made over the last few years — the MSD of today is a much different place than it was just a few years ago.

However, we recognize that we must continue to work hard to gain and keep the public’s trust. The management and staff of MSD pledges to continually scrutinize our business practices, deliver sound fiscal management and be fully accountable to the public for the ways in which we spend their money.

The appropriate use of outside professional services is just one area of our business that we will continually monitor to ensure that we are providing the most value for every public dollar spent.

Jeffrey Theerman

MSD executive director

St. Louis