Head of Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority resigns
March 3, 2016 11:56 PM
Billing problems, including in some cases thousands of dollars in incorrect charges and bills that fail to arrive, dogged the agency under Executive Director Jim Good.
By Lexi Belculfine / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jim Good, executive director of the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, resigned Thursday from the agency dogged with billing problems and frequent customer complaints.
PWSA’s board accepted Mr. Good’s resignation Thursday and will begin a nationwide search for a new director, Mayor Bill Peduto announced in a news release.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity I’ve had the last four years to serve the people of Pittsburgh. Under my leadership, the PWSA has been transformed into a performance-based organization focused on stakeholder needs,” Mr. Good said in a statement lauding his former co-workers. “... Everything the PWSA needs to be a great water utility is in place. I wish my colleagues and friends at the Authority, its Board and the Administration nothing but the best in their efforts to build on this legacy and ensure its transformation is successfully completed.”
He would not comment further on his resignation, but said, “I love Pittsburgh, and I want to stay here and continue to contribute to the community.”
David Donahoe, who served for 20 years as director of the Allegheny Regional Asset District, starts today as the interim executive director and will be paid $10,000 monthly — what he made at RAD, where he worked with a volunteer board to allocate and administer more than $1.5 billion in grants to libraries, regional parks, pro sports facilities and cultural venues.
“I’m always happy to serve. I hope to move the authority forward in the short time I will be there,” he said, adding that he expects a new director to be appointed within six months.
Billing problems, including in some cases thousands of dollars in incorrect charges and bills that fail to arrive, and customer-service complaints have hounded PWSA. Some problems were blamed on the agency’s implementation of new meter-interface units that use wireless technology, software issues and, in some cases, what Mr. Good termed “human error,” in a hearing before city council members.
But PWSA board chairman Alex W. Thomson said in a statement that the authority was working to address those issues: “PWSA has made significant improvements in many areas including internal operations, capital planning, construction coordination and green CSO initiatives. The Board thanks Jim Good for his efforts in this regard. However, we are keenly aware of the frustration some customers have with the continued billing and customer service problems. We understand that much work still needs to be done. We are determined as a board to fix these problems and gain back the trust of all our customers as quickly as possible.”
John Schombert, executive director of 3 Rivers Wet Weather, a nonprofit promoting a regional response to the federal sewer system improvement mandate, praised Mr. Good for his energy, ideas and accessibility in that effort.
“Jim had initiated some new approaches to regional planning and was trying to engage area communities in more participation with PWSA,” Mr. Schombert said. “I hope whoever follows him will continue in those efforts.”
Mr. Good, who earned $240,000 per year, was named executive director in May 2015 after leading a three-year overhaul of the authority under a contractual agreement with outside management firm Veolia North America. He was the first permanent executive director since 2010, when Michael Kenney resigned over his ties to a company providing waterline insurance that the PWSA forced on its customers.
Staff writer Don Hopey contributed. Lexi Belculfine: email@example.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc.
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