BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Dozens of Bossier City employees are on track to lose their jobs, 40 to be exact, now that the city council has taken a big step toward outsourcing their jobs.
City workers packed the council meeting to protest the vote and the loss of jobs. Just 2 and a half years after a major sewer tax hike, city leaders insist they now need to make this change to save the city money.
Heather Cotsopoulos broke down into tears after the city council passed a first reading that would outsource the management of the water and sewer division and cut 40 jobs, including Cotsopoulos' husband.
"I just don't see how they can do this to good people," said Cotsopoulos.
During the meeting, several city workers told the council why they thought the public-private partnership with Manchac consulting was a bad idea.
"This will never work if you go through the numbers they have listed there," said Michael Wallette, who is one of the employees who may lose his job.
Cotsopoulos spoke to the council on behalf of her husband, who is out of town working for the national guard.
"The situation doesn't sit right with me," she said.
But in the end, the council voted to cut the positions in a first reading vote.
"It is like they didn't hear us, like their minds were already made up," said Cotsopoulos.
Mayor Lo Walker told the council they have no choice but to take this action because of the deficit in the enterprise fund.
"We only have two choices. I appreciated that is to raise fees or reduce the costs," said Mayor Lo Walker.
In 2013, the council approved of a 41-percent sewer rate increase after a study by Manchac Consulting Group and Burns and McDonnell assured the council another hike wouldn't be needed for another 10 years if they raised rates. But city leaders now say the enterprise fund is not paying for itself and voted for that same group Manchac Consulting Group to take over day-to-day operations.
"We are in the hole millions of dollars and we can't afford to do that. We are not going to raise rates again," said Councilman David Montgomery.
Cotsopoulos wishes the city would have given the employees who may be let go more notice.
"We could have been looking and preparing for this day."
Instead, she had to find out about the vote on KSLA.com after her friend pointed out the article to her.
City leaders now say instead of saving $3.5 million with this deal like they told KSLA News 12 on Monday, they now say the deal will save the city around $2.1 Million.
If the council approves of the changes during a final vote, the agreement will go into effect in July.