JACKSON, Mississippi (WLBT) – A former Verizon executive and two public works employees seconded from the city of Jackson are forming a team to oversee the implementation of a federal court order designed to bring the Jackson water system into compliance. We support completion. under federal law.
Jordan Hillman, Jackson’s Deputy Director of Water Utilities; Terrence Bird, the city’s water utility operations supervisor; • Join Henfin’s leadership team. JXN Water.
JXN Water is a private company formed by Henifin to help manage the city’s water and billing systems. He founded it late last year, just weeks after being named his ITPM by a federal judge.
Hillman will serve as Chief Operating Officer and Byrd has been appointed to oversee the management of the contractor. Meanwhile, Abdul-Tawwab will serve as Chief Experience Officer.
So what exactly is a Chief Experience Officer?
“It’s a fairly new, buzzy term, but it’s really about both the customer and employee experience,” says Henifin. “There’s a lot of work to be done on the customer side…it’s been hard to access. We haven’t provided much follow-up.”
“I don’t know if that’s unusual for city government in general. I don’t know,” he said. “And we want to change that.”
According to a copy of his biography on jxnwater.com, Abdul-Tawwab has worked in the utility industry for over 18 years, previously serving as an operations manager for an 80-employee Verizon call center. Prior to that role, he was a corporate trainer at Verizon where he “led the entire recruiting process from cradle to grave, preparing job postings, reviewing resumes, conducting phone screenings and formal interviews. I have prepared a notice of appointment.”
In Jackson, he will lead the Jackson Water and Sewerage Administration, which has 27 employees.
“People call and I don’t know if leak reports are actually being made or if they have billing questions. [are being addressed]We really want to make it easy for people to interact with us on water issues…so people can access their phones and computers and easily check the status of anything they ask. increase. [we’re] We’re really trying to improve the overall customer experience,” said Henifin.
Abdul-Tawwab’s job is to figure out how JXN Water does it.
This includes asking, “What infrastructure do you need to do it… how many people are needed, what information technology resources are needed, what programs do you need to use… make the whole experience a different and positive experience.” It includes the consideration of “need to be .
“Because when you call your local government or water department wherever you are, you’re usually not calling them to say ‘thank you’.you have a problem, you have a problem, you need [water] If it’s restored, if you want to report something, we want to make it as easy and comfortable as the best companies do. ”
Jackson’s shortcomings in meeting customer needs became apparent during the Christmas water crisis.
“We were asking people to report the leak. People say, ‘I’ve been asking for it for years and no one has done anything,'” he said. All of that seems to be stuck somewhere. They just don’t get a good sense that we’re doing anything. ”
[Belhaven resident says main breaks have gone unrepaired for a year, despite being reported to the city]
Henifin said temporary workers may be hired to supplement city officials. He also said it could introduce new technology, such as check readers to process payments, to make the jobs of current staff easier.
“There are so many manual processes in our billing system…As you can imagine, we receive a lot of checks and we manually enter them into the system one at a time.” he said. “There is technology that can read checks and put them into the system, but it’s not very expensive.”
“This sort of thing takes up a lot of staff time because we failed to invest in relatively simple technology. This is just one example. I learned a few other things in one week.”
Technology aside, Henifin says Hillman is considering moving the WSBA office in Jackson.
“I am fully aware that they are in very bad shape where they are in Metro Center. , it is a matter of course, ”he said. “It’s like trying to drive through a war zone to get to the entrance. She plans to identify properties that we could potentially lease or buy to conduct her WSBA business.”
Hillman, who served as interim public works director during the water crisis, is “on secondment” from the city.
“As chief operating officer … she will really be the one behind the scenes to make sure everything is working together, that we are making the right improvements, that we are making the right choices,” he said. “She knows a lot about water systems in general.”
Byrd, on the other hand, does “hands-on contract management.”
JXN Water will undertake a considerable amount of work, including the operation and maintenance of two water purification plants in the city.
The EPA has long been concerned about staffing shortages at the OB Curtis water treatment plant, which serves approximately 43,000 connections.
“This is not unique to Jackson either, but in public sector contract management, you can’t hire someone to do something and pay attention to what they’re doing,” he said. Terrance will therefore be really focused on contract performance of processing plants and distribution systems. [contractors] They are doing what they say they are doing and making sure we are paying them for what they are doing. ”
The work will be funded with a combination of EPA and City funds.
The EPA provided Jackson with a $2.9 million grant to fund Henifin’s professional expenses. Meanwhile, the operation and maintenance of both the water system and the billing system are paid for from outside the city coffers.
Henifin recently opened an O&M account with Trustmark National Bank. The city council approved the transfer of $3.2 million to accounts at its meeting on Tuesday.
At the time, the city and Henifin were still deciding whether some employees in the billing office should remain with the city or be given work under JXN Water.
Henifin said WSBA staff are staying in the city because they don’t know how long JXN Water will last. He also says that keeping employees as city employees ensures they continue to maintain state retirement eligibility.
The third-party manager is expected to serve for at least a year, according to court documents. His Henifin first business filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office His filing shows that his company will exist for at least his two years.
“Obviously, a judge… as a person in charge, cannot exist like this forever. “There is,” he said. [employees] It will be refunded to the city at the end of each month. ”
“They are, [each] Employees were from the previous month. They charge his JXN Water and JXN Water basically pays them back with the money they gave us,” Henifin said. “It’s a little weird, but from an accounting standpoint, it works pretty clean.”
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