Albany Water, Gas and Light Commission eliminates fiber optics positions

Eight Albany Water, Gas and Light employees are reduction-in-force casualties

ALBANY — Interim Albany Water, Gas & Light General Manager Tom Berry announced Wednesday afternoon a “reduction in force” that will impact eight WG&L employees.

Berry, who began his interim tenure with the city-owned utility on Sept. 1, said he hopes the eight jobs in WG&L’s fiber optics division are the only ones that need to be cut in his efforts to make the utility more efficient. But he said his evaluation of Water, Gas & Light’s entire operation would continue.

“This is the worst thing that has to be done in an organization, and it’s certainly not what I was brought here to do,” said Berry, who was a Georgia Power engineer for 19 years and the utilities superintendent/city manager of Thomasville for 20 more before starting work as an independent consultant in 2004.

“The action we’ve taken goes back to the reason I was asked to come to Albany: to make this organization more efficient. I certainly hope this is the only reduction in force we are required to make, but I can’t say that for sure right now. I am evaluating the entire operation.”

Berry said the eight cuts in WG&L’s fiber optics staff essentially eliminates that division. Fiber optics customers will be served by the utility’s expanded Telecommunications division. Berry said he plans to post immediately openings for new positions in the utility’s Telcom division. He didn’t know Wednesday how many jobs would be posted.

“We’re encouraging the employees whose jobs were cut to apply for the positions that are opening in our Telcom division,” Berry said. “There won’t be eight openings, but we hope (the eight impacted employees) will apply for those and other city jobs that are open now.

“These cuts, I want to stress, had nothing to do with the individual performance of any of our employees. It was simply an effort to make our organization more efficient.”

Berry said one of the eight employees, whom he refused to name, may be eligible for early retirement. He said all were given severance packages.

“I hope all of our employees at WG&L realize this is part of the solution to a problem,” Berry said. “I don’t want it to impact the morale of our employees. I plan to meet with all of them later this week or early next to talk with them about this situation.”

With the reductions, WG&L now has 267 employees.