JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – More water operators are on their way to Jackson after the city council unanimously voted to approve a temporary contract on Thursday, November 10.

Under a new contract with a California-based company, four Class A operators are expected to be in place at the city’s water treatment facilities before federal help leaves at the end of the month.

In a special meeting, Jackson City Council members unanimously voted to authorize the mayor to execute a contract with Water Talent LLC to bring more Class A operators to Jackson.

“Contracting is not always the cheapest option, but in this case, it may be the only option.”

The temporary contract runs through February 2023 and will cost up to about $720,000. City Council President Ashby Foote had some concerns with how much the temporary workers would be paid.

“To have four new people show up and have them making what amounts to $100,000 for what amounts to ten weeks work, what’s that going to do to the morale for the current operators that are making $55,000 for working a whole year?” Foote asked.

A consultant argued that the pay is necessary to cover moving, housing, insurance and other expenses.

“There’s no doubt that’s a challenge, but the big piece of this is it also allows them not to not have to work 70-80 hours a week. They’re also going to get some of their life back, which I think they all would like at this point in time. $160 is the fully burdened rate including their travel expenses, includes their fringe benefits, includes insurance and includes insurance,” said consultant Tedd Henifin.

Although there was some opposition, all four city council members who attended the meeting agreed that the city needs the temporary help until they can find a permanent solution.

The operators are expected to arrive this weekend and start working on Monday. They will work about 60 hours per week.