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September 21st, 2009
Efficiency task force evaluates water, wastewater utilities

SUBMITTED REPORT

A partnership of city of San Marcos officials, local business leaders and graduate students at Texas State University is resulting in efficiency recommendations to improve management of the city’s water and wastewater services.

“Our Water and Wastewater Utility provides essential services to our community by assuring that we have reliable and high quality current and future water resources and that we treat wastewater to the very highest standards,” said Mayor Susan Narvaiz. “Obtaining expert peer review from experienced advisors in the business community and Texas State University will help improve our efficiency and will bring many benefits to our residents and the city.”

The task force is co-chaired by Mayor Pro Tem Pam Couch and Council Member Fred Terry. Business leaders include John Meeks, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for McCoy’s, Sue Hardin, CPA, of Robenett & Co., LP, Earl Studdard of North Carolina Furniture, and John Campsmith, General Manager of Phillips/Genlyte, who are led by City Manager Rick Menchaca.

Students in Texas State University’s Master of Business Administration program studied the city’s operations and presented findings recently to the task force. The university effort on the fleet study was led by Dr. Dennis Smart, Associate Professor of Management, and MBA students Michael Maher, Maury Nelson, Wes Oldfather and Roopa Yarlagadda.

The Efficiency Task Force’s review of Water/Wastewater services offered a number of recommendations, including:

  • Expand customer education programs about the cost of services
  • Explain the basis of water rates to customers on bills and website
  • Expand the use of technology, such as “smart meters” to improve customer service
  • Analyze system information to create benchmarks with accurate, meaningful results
  • Continue development of conservation practices as a strategy for future water supply and increase funding for incentive and rebate programs, such as exploring implementation of rainwater harvesting, condensation collection, graywater use, and xeriscaping
  • Use resources at Texas State University to assist in the utility’s effectiveness and efficiency.

“The opportunity to collaborate with Laurie Moyer, Tom Taggart, Jon Clack and other San Marcos City Water Utility employees on a meaningful and timely project allowed our students to employ many decision making and analytical tools developed in the McCoy MBA Program,” Dr. Smart said. “Additionally, I believe the student group provided information and models that might be used in an ongoing basis within the City Water Utility Water Group. Certainly, our students developed a keen appreciation regarding the complexity associated with water issues in San Marcos and Central Texas.

He added, “This was a terrific experience for the McCoy MBA students. We very much appreciate City Manager Manchaca’s willingness to facilitate these collaborative activities and we look forward to continuing the relationship between the City of San Marcos and the McCoy MBA Program.”

The city intends to continue the program in the future.

“We will continue working with Texas State and the MBA graduate program to evaluate city operations,” City Manager Rick Menchaca said. “In the long run, we will gain improved operations, greater efficiencies and cost savings that will benefit the people of San Marcos.”

— FROM THE CITY OF SAN MARCOS/MELISSA MILLECAM

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