During a recent Sandy Springs City Council meeting, city Public Works Director Tom Black and others from his department gave the mayor and council members maps locating street improvement projects from recent years. The maps were autographed by public works employees.

They were intended to be keepsakes for the council members.

When the council gathers for its first July meeting, some of those employees – including Black — will be gone. The city recently hired new companies to run its services and some employees lost their jobs. Black has taken a job as public works director in Johns Creek.

On July 1, the staff officially changed as three new companies took over from CH2M HILL as the main providers of city services. CH2M HILL had provided almost all city services.

“They are a bit anxious about this transition,” admitted new Public Works Director Kevin J. Walter, an employee of new contractor URS. “They’ve never done it before. But we have a good staff, including a lot of incumbents. … We made some critical hires of key people and we’re really glad they’ve come to work for us.”

URS is one of three companies replacing CH2M HILL as the contractor for city services. Together, the new companies – URS, Jacobs Engineering group Inc. and the Collaborative — have contracted to run five areas of the city. The city says the new contracts save the city more than $7 million a year.

In recent weeks, Walter and other contractors have been interviewing former CH2M HILL employees for city jobs.

“The last I heard, it looked like we’re going to be retaining 90 percent-plus in all departments except public works,” said Sandy Springs City Councilwoman Dianne Fries.

For his part, Walter hopes the changeover from one contractor to another will be seamless.

“I think the service the existing staff has been providing the city has been excellent,” he said. “We’re not going to fix anything that’s not broken. … I think we have some new ideas and some new procedures, but it’s important to us to do equally as good a job. I think the public expects it.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.