Petersburg agency considers outsourcing city jobs

Petersburg agency considers outsourcing city jobs

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - After five months on the job, the group hired to help get Petersburg on track is now unveiling a new plan of action.

With a $520,000 price tag came the decision to keep the Robert Bobb turnaround group in Petersburg. Now that the contract is being extended through September, the agency is pitching a new controversial plan that could impact city worker's jobs.

Right now, all city employees in Petersburg are already experiencing pay cuts to help the city get a hold of its finances. Now a new plan is on the table that could result in some workers being told their services are no longer needed.

One of the main pitches from the group includes outsourcing key departments within the city. Payroll, facilities management, even finding a company to take over billing and collections for utilities.

"Does this mean Petersburg can't handle it on its own?" NBC 12 asked Councilman John Hart.

"I don't think it's that. I think it's more of cost savings," Hart replied.

But that doesn't mean he or the council are completely sold.

"To just turn everything over to an outside company and outsourcing it, I'm against," Hart said.

"The City is looking at every opportunity it can to operate efficiently and simultaneously to do so in the public's best interest," said Interim City Spokesperson Clay Hammer. "If that means searching for a person or persons to fill a City position, or even an entire department at a cost savings to the City, we are examining those possibilities."

"You don't get to pick the people most of the time that's doing the work for your outsourcing, you pick the company and they could be just filling seats," Hart said.

Under the plan, contractors could replace city workers who currently maintain city buildings like libraries and fire stations. The same for human resource-related work, like processing paychecks. Water bills could also be handled by an outside company through the proposal, all of which is expected to save big bucks.

"Some things can be cost savings, but in the long run, will it really save you money, or will it just be a temporary solution?" Hart asked.

Before approving Bobb's extension, council members wanted to make sure the group knows to report to council before taking any drastic action.

"At the end of the day, we're your boss," Hart said.

Per the turnaround agency's new deal, it has until the end of September to finish its mission in Petersburg.

Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved