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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Big changes and big announcements were in store at the Metropolitan Sewer District on Monday, a year after a critical state audit. MSD also has a new leader -- the Louisville Water Company's president, Greg Heitzman, who has been instrumental in changing things around at MSD. When questions arose over some of the practices going on at MSD, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer ordered an audit.
But he says he was not prepared for the results last year. "I didn't know it was going to come back with 150 findings," he laughed, "but when it did we said okay we need to get to work," said Fischer.
Part of getting to work was bringing in Greg Heitzman, the president of the Louisville Water Company as interim director. He has done such a good job turning things around, Fischer has made him permanent director. "I was planning to retire this year and this is a new challenge for me," said Heitzman.
Former MSD Director Bud Schardein was forced out, and Heitzman pushed the revamped MSD board through a year of change. "This was an organization that a year ago was in significant disrepair," said State Auditor Adam Edelen.
A critical audit that found MSD management wasted and abused millions of dollars over three years. Edelen has been reviewing MSD's monthly progress reports and is praising city leaders for implementing solutions so quickly.
"People should take real pride to now have an organization that's running for their benefit rather than for the benefit of people running it," said Edelen.
"To go through the audit with over 150 recommendations in there in 1 year and come up with solutions and moving forward is extraordinary," added Fischer. Mayor Fischer also wants to move forward in merging MSD and Louisville Water, creating a "One Water" concept. "I would like to see it happen in the next few years if all the due diligence works out," said Fischer.
"Many other cities in the country, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville, are either already combined or are in the process of combining," Heitzman explained.
A search for a new leader at the Water Company will begin soon. Heitzman will take on his new role by May 1.
Mayor Fischer's office provided this list of resources the MSD and Louisville Water are already sharing:
Implementing a new Customer Care and Billing System. This $28 million system will enhance customer services for water and sewer service in the region;
Partnering with Metro Safe to begin using the state of the art Emergency Management radio system, saving over $150,000 in annual operating costs;
Sharing operating resources. For example, LWC crews now pour concrete for MSD street repairs, LWC and MSD will be using the Metro paving contract, and MSD vacuum equipment will be available for use by water crews.
An independent study concluded that up to $25 million in efficiencies could be realized with a consolidation and sharing of resources.