MSD executive director Greg Heitzman
MSD executive director Greg Heitzman

Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District announced today at its board meeting that executive director Greg Heitzman will retire in August, with Mayor Greg Fischer set to conduct a national search for his replacement.

Addressing the announcement of Heitzman’s pending retirement, MSD Board Chairwoman Cyndi Caudill said he “has done a great job in leading MSD these past three years… On behalf of the whole board, I want to extend our thanks to him for his leadership and in helping to set MSD’s course to a successful future.”

Heitzman became the interim executive director of MSD in December of 2011, following a scathing state audit showing mismanagement at the agency, and was named full-time director just over a year later. He was previously the CEO and president of Louisville Water Company, and once at MSD helped steer the One Water Partnership to merge the services of the two organizations.

In a press release, Fischer praised Heitzman, saying he “has been a strong, effective leader for MSD. He took over the agency at a difficult time but helped turn it around after significant findings in a state audit. Our city is grateful for his bold leadership.”

Fischer says he will initiate a national search for Heitzman’s replacement, along with the MSD board’s chair, vice chair and personnel committee chair. The executive director position is expected to be filled before Heitzman’s retirement.

The past year has been a turbulent one for MSD, most notably for a contentious labor dispute between management and LIUNA Local 576, the union representing 150 of their workers at MSD’s Central Maintenance Facility. The fight over the terms of their contract led to talk of a potential strike, TV ads targeting Fischer (who appoints MSD’s director and board members), ethics charges being filed and eventually dropped against two board members, the resignation of their vice chair for a derogatory text message about union employees, and the removal of recognition for LIUNA as the workers’ collective bargaining unit.

The past month also has brought challenges, as today’s board meeting was attended by citizens who blamed MSD for preventing them from repairing flood damage on their homes or disclosing in advance why they would not, while not offering to buy back their homes. Heitzman also initiated an internal audit of their supplier diversity program following an Insider Louisville story presenting evidence that a minority-owned business apparently was used as a front for white-owned businesses in order to gain millions of dollars worth of contracts.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]