NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, the Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined the leaders of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB) to announce a new plan to coordinate infrastructure management. Under a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the City of New Orleans and S&WB, an Integrated Infrastructure Management System will be created to coordinate all infrastructure projects and repairs to ensure that they are performed properly and in a timely manner.
“Upon taking office, I committed to the citizens of New Orleans that we would not just rebuild our city, but that we would be a city for the ages,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “As part of that commitment, I promised to reform and modernize the Sewerage and Water Board because it is our most important utility. To meet the challenges we face, everyone must be on the same page but for too long the City and S&WB were not working with each other. Today, we aim to change that. By creating an Integrated Infrastructure Management System between the City and S&WB, we will create efficiencies on all projects and produce real time savings while at the same time minimizing disruption to our streets, sidewalks and other public spaces. By working hand in hand like never before, we will build a stronger, more resilient city.”
Under terms of the agreement, the S&WB will coordinate all its repair, maintenance, and construction projects with the City, including the Department of Public Works, Department of Property Management, and Capital Projects Administration including the Disaster Recovery Unit and all Disaster Community Development Block Grant funded projects. All water management planning and implementation for both the City and S&WB will be under direction of the Cedric Grant, Executive Director of S&WB. City and S&WB personnel will coordinate jointly on projects including construction, acquisition, improvement, maintenance and promotion of any public improvement or project, specifically including activities related to public utilities, sewerage, flood control, drainage, and streets. Through combined procurement and project development, efficiencies will be created resulting in real time savings on programs and projects.
Cedric Grant, Executive Director of S&WB said, “I am 100% committed to reforming and modernizing this critical public utility and bringing it into the 21st century. We have an unbelievable opportunity to build for our future starting right now. By implementing a comprehensive and integrated maintenance plan, all City infrastructure repairs and projects will be coordinated from start to finish. With the City and S&WB working hand in hand, we are positioned to build a more resilient system that can handle the challenges of the future and improve customer service.”
Ray Manning, President Pro-Tem of S&WB said, “We are excited about the future of the Sewerage and Water Board. This is an opportunity for this vital public utility to take a leading role in our City’s future. This Integrated Infrastructure Management System between the City and S&WB will save money, save time, and it just makes sense.”
Click here for video of today’s announcement
NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans solicited proposals from qualified Executive Search Consultants/Firms to advise the Board to fill the Executive Director position. In August 2013, the Board contracted with the firm of Colin Baenziger & Associates, a national executive search firm, to help the Board’s Search Committee seek applicants for the position. Following a nationwide search and reviewing 60 applicants, Mr. Grant was unanimously selected in December 2013 as the strongest and most qualified candidate for Executive Director by the SW&B Board of Directors.
In July 2014, the Board of Directors for S&WB unanimously selected Cedric Grant as its new Executive Director. Mr. Grant has served as Deputy Mayor of Facilities, Infrastructure, and Community Development for the City of New Orleans since 2010. He succeeds Marcia St. Martin who retired earlier this year after serving nine years in the position and Deputy Director Robert Miller who served as Interim Executive Director since her retirement. Mr. Grant assumed his duties on Monday, July 28, 2014 as the S&WB begins a $3.3 billion capital improvement program comprised of over 600 projects that will create over 20,000 construction jobs.
For the last four years, Deputy Mayor Grant had overseen the City's infrastructure and jumpstarted Hurricane Katrina recovery projects in nearly every neighborhood in the city. In this capacity, he oversaw the City’s capital development, infrastructure projects, and community development initiatives. Under his direction in negotiations, the City secured over $828 million in new FEMA recovery funds to repair important facilities and interior neighborhood streets. He also improved coordination between S&WB and the City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) on the $280 million FEMA-funded Recovery Roads Program that is repairing Hurricane Katrina-related damages on and beneath City-managed streets throughout New Orleans. A new joint S&WB-DPW project management unit was created to better facilitate design review designs and coordinate on joint capital improvement projects. Now, engineers from both the S&WB and DPW are sitting in the same room, reviewing the same plans.
Mr. Grant came to City Hall after serving as Chief Administrative Officer of Ascension Parish, Louisiana, where he was responsible for management and oversight of all governmental operations. In 2004, Governor Blanco appointed Mr. Grant as Deputy Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, where he served until 2008. Prior to his appointment at the State, Mr. Grant held numerous managerial and administrative positions in government, including service as Chief Administrative Officer for the City of New Orleans. Mr. Grant has also served as Planning Manager for the Port of New Orleans and Director of Capital Projects for the New Orleans Downtown Development District. Mr. Grant served his country in the U.S. Army and completed 23 years of active and reserve service, retiring in 1995 with the rank of major. He earned a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of New Orleans in 1981 and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1974.
As Executive Director, Mr. Grant has committed to reforming and improving the S&WB by implementing the following strategies:
Infrastructure Management Integration: Implement a comprehensive and integrated maintenance plan so all infrastructure repairs are coordinated with the City and New Orleans utilities and performed properly and in a timely manner to ensure the reliability and survivability of the City’s infrastructure while providing quality service to the citizens of New Orleans.
Training, Job Opportunities, and Organizational Change: Upgrade training and development of staff and focus on providing job opportunities to youth and citizens of New Orleans. Implement a strong retention and succession planning strategy.
Financial Integration: Implement the approved operating and capital plan and develop innovative public-private partnerships to fund capital and operation programs.
Business Process Integration: Improve customer service, outreach, billing operations, and enhancements to the S&WB’s community assistance programs.
Environmental Integration: Implement green infrastructure to combine with the City’s storm water management strategies.
Intergovernmental Integration: Serve as the city’s point person on issues of infrastructure and water management as well as continuing to serve as a member of the C40 Global Initiative on Climate Change and the Delta Cities Initiative, the Clinton Global Initiative, and Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Initiative.
COMMITMENT TO REFORM
Since taking office, the Landrieu administration has successfully secured federal dollars for key infrastructure projects including more than $200 million in new funding from FEMA for repairs to thousands of water and sewer lines, pumps, and pump stations. In addition, $150 million in FEMA Hazard Mitigation funds has been secured to help repair the aging S&WB power plant.
In December 2012, Mayor Landrieu, with the support of local business, political, and community leaders, worked with the New Orleans City Council to pass a water and sewer rate increase that will generate $583 million and help fund a large portion of the S&WB’s $3.3 billion infrastructure improvement program composed of over 600 projects that will create 25,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs. As a direct result, Standard and Poor’s Rating Service upgraded S&WB’s bond rating which will save the S&WB millions of dollars. In June 2014, the S&WB sold bonds for water and sewer systems to refinance outstanding debt and fund its capital improvement program which is now fully funded for the first time in twenty-five years. To meet the anticipated demand for workers to repair the city’s aging infrastructure, the City, S&WB, and JOB1 Business and Career Solutions Center are developing a worker training program with Delgado Community College aimed at increasing the pool of certified water and wastewater treatment personnel.
The S&WB has already implemented a number of internal reforms to improve its performance and accountability. The S&WB now hosts public meetings to report out on its performance. Key department heads and program managers get feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to change. To improve coordination, the S&WB and the Department of Public Works engineers are now working in the same room so that they can work hand in hand to fix pipes and streets in a coordinated and timely manner. And to improve reliability, the S&WB has enhanced its Water Help Program for elderly and low-income customers and is moving forward on implementing electronic metering to help detect water leaks.
In order to reform the governance of the S&WB, changes were required to both Louisiana State law and the New Orleans City Charter by a vote of the citizens of Orleans Parish.
During the 2013 Louisiana Legislative Session, State Senator J.P. Morrell and Representative Walt Leger, III passed Senate Bill 47 which reduced the S&WB from 13 to 11 members with reduced terms of service from 9 to 4 years and limits to serving two consecutive terms. This legislation eliminated three seats previously held by New Orleans City Councilmembers and added a new citizen appointment made by the Mayor.
In July 2013, the New Orleans City Council unanimously approved placing the reform proposal on the October 2013 ballot which was later overwhelmingly approved by the Orleans Parish residents.
On January 2014, the S&WB issued a Declaration of Vacancies, announcing there would be vacancies on its Board of Directors and began accepting applications for persons interested in serving. As stipulated by the newly passed state law and city charter change, to fill the eight citizen member seats on the newly constituted Board of Directors, a Selection Committee was assembled. This committee was composed of representatives from seven local universities representing Delgado Community College, Dillard University, Loyola University, Southern University of New Orleans, Tulane University, the University of New Orleans, and Xavier University and three civic associations representing the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, and Urban League of Greater New Orleans.
The Selection Committee met twice in February and reviewed 90 applicants. For each of the eight open Board seats, the Selection Committee recommended three individuals for the Mayor to choose from and then send to the New Orleans City Council for approval.
In May 2014, Mayor Landrieu nominated the following eight citizens to serve on the S&WB who were unanimously approved by the New Orleans City Council:
Council District A: Scott Jacobs
Council District B: Robin Barnes
Council District C: Kerri Kane, JD
Council District D: Marion Bracy
Council District E: Mark Moody
At-Large: Tamika Duplessis, Ph.D.
Consumer/Community Advocate: Kimberly Thomas, JD
Consumer/Community Advocate: Joseph Peychaud
In addition, Mayor Landrieu appointed Ray Manning and Alan C. Arnold to serve on the new Board of Directors to the S&WB as syndicate members recommended by the Board of Liquidation, City Debt.
Scott Jacobs (Council District A)
Scott Jacobs has spent the last twenty-four years in the insurance and risk management industry. Since 2003, he has served as the Chief Administrative Officer of Strategic Comp, a division of Great American Insurance Group. He is also a former Executive Vice President at Hibernia Rosenthal Insurance (now HUB International). He is a graduate of Cornell University where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and completed a Masters of Business Administration at Tulane University.
Robin Barnes (Council District B)
Robin Barnes is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Greater New Orleans, Inc., the regional economic development alliance serving the 10-parish region of Southeast Louisiana. There she oversaw administration of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, a resiliency study of St. Bernard Parish and the east banks of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes which provides a vision and implementation plan for addressing stormwater, groundwater, and subsidence. She was also served on President Barack Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force as Senior Policy Advisory for Small Business and Economic Recovery. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.
Kerri Kane, JD (Council District C)
Kerri Kane is an attorney serving as Counsel at Irwin, Fritchie, Urquhart & Moore LLC since 2005. There, she has worked in areas of complex litigation, pharmaceutical defense, medical device litigation, and personal injury defense. She is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences and Loyola Law School where she served as the Substance and Citation Editor for the Loyola Maritime Law Journal. She was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 2004. She has served on the Board of Directors to the S&WB since 2012.
Marion Bracy (Council District D)
Marion Bracy is Vice President for Facility Planning and Management at Xavier University of Louisiana. Mr. Bracy has overseen the $200 million restoration of the Xavier University campus after Hurricane Katrina and help increase FEMA funding participation from $5 million to over $100 million. He is a graduate of Dillard University and the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) Leadership Academy and has completed the curriculum of the APPA Institute for Facilities Management. He has served on the Board of Directors to the S&WB since 2011.
Mark Moody (Council District E)
Mark Moody is Lead Engineer in the Rocket Propulsion Test Program Office at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. His duties include providing guidance and technical expertise on NASA rocket propulsion test facility capabilities and utilization. He also serves as an Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserve. Since 2011, he has served on the Board of Liquidation, City Debt and on the Board of Directors to the S&WB.
Tamika Duplessis, Ph.D. (At-Large)
Dr. Tamika Duplessis is Lead Chemistry Instructor at Delgado Community College, where she has taught since 2009. She is also a Collaborator/ Contributing Scientist with Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy where she does research on breast cancer. She is a graduate of Xavier University with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (cum laude) and received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology with concentration in Biochemical Mechanisms of Cancer Etiology from Tulane University.
Kimberly Thomas, JD (Consumer/Community Advocate)
Kimberly Thomas is currently a Funding Project Manager/ Public Assistance Program Specialist with Jacobs/ CSRS, a construction management company with expertise in disaster recovery services. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of Algiers Economic Development Association. She is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and received her Juris Doctorate from the Southern University Law Center.
Joseph Peychaud (Consumer/Community Advocate)
Joseph Peychaud is a lifelong resident of New Orleans with over forty-eight years of continuous service as a community advocate and activist, educator, facilitator, and public and private sector administrator. Since 2011, he has served as President of St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School (formerly Xavier University Preparatory) where he has overseen all operational components of the school including budget, plant and facilities, development, public relations, staffing, capital projects, parental involvement, and community outreach. He is also President of the Climana Neighborhood Association. He is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana with a Bachelor of Arts in Education/ Liberal Arts and the University of New Orleans with a Masters in Urban Studies.
Ray Manning (Board of Liquidation, City Debt Syndicated Member)
Ray Manning is Founder and CEO of Manning Architects which has established a local and national reputation in architecture, interior design, urban design and planning. The core of his work has been the development, planning, and urban design of the City of New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Southern University, a Master of Architecture from the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Planning all with Honors and continuing education in Design and Management at Harvard University and Dartmouth College. Ray is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), and is licensed to practice architecture in 14 states and the District of Columbia. His other credentials include Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accreditation and membership in the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). He is a member of the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows. Since 2011, he has served on the Board of Liquidation, City Debt and on the Board of Directors to the S&WB. In November 2011, he was elected President Pro Tem of the S&WB.
Alan C. Arnold (Board of Liquidation, City Debt Syndicated Member)
Alan C. Arnold is President of Midsouth Realty Management, Inc. and Arnold & Co. Inc. and former President of Howard, Weil, Labouisse, Friedrichs Inc. He is on the Board of Visitors for the Loyola Business School, serves on the Investment Committee of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Board of Christopher Homes and is a former Board member of the World Trade Center. He is past chairman of Partnerships in Education. Since 2008, he has served on the Board of Liquidation, City Debt and from 2009 to 2011 served on the Board of Directors to the S&WB. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Masters of Business Administration from Loyola University.