CENTRAL — A nonprofit group will run city services here beginning July 1 under a contract expected to save Central almost $500,000 a year, city officials said Thursday.

Central’s five-year contract with Institute for Building Technology and Safety calls for the city to pay IBTS a little more than $3 million a year, said David Barrow, executive assistant to Mayor Shelton “Mac” Watts.

Central, the only municipality in Louisiana and one of the few in the nation to fully privatize city services, is finishing a three- year-contract with CH2M Hill, one of four companies to bid for the new contract.

IBTS was the low bidder and scored the highest on the city’s Request for Qualifications with a nine-member selection committee made up of council members and other residents, Barrow said.

City Councilman Ralph Washington said he was happy with IBTS and thinks the group will be good for the city.

Washington sat on both the 21-person city services contract committee appointed by the mayor and the nine-person selection committee that recommended Institute for Building Technology and Safety to Watts, who signed the contract June 8.

“I think they (IBTS) will be an improvement, and the main reason we chose them is the money we will save,” Washington said.

He also commended CH2M Hill for the city’s first contract.

“I have to give credit to CH2M Hill. They helped us make it through the beginning. It just feels like time to move on,” Washington said.

Prior to Central signing a contract with CH2M Hill in 2008, East Baton Rouge city-parish government handled city services between the city’s 2005 incorporation and the CH2M Hill contract.

The city-parish kept 90 percent of Central’s sales taxes to pay for those services for that three-year period, Barrow said.

IBTS, like CH2M Hill, will handle all city services other than public safety operations, such as police and fire protection.

City Attorney Sheri Morris said Institute for Building Technology and Safety, as a nonprofit group, will be subject to more financial disclosure than a private company because they cannot make a profit.

Under the contract, if IBTS makes any profit under the city services contract, that money will be rebated to the city or can used for other, additional services, Morris said.

Barrow said one of the services IBTS will provide the city is online permitting, something CH2M Hill did not provide.

According to the contract, IBTS will delegate some city services to other groups and companies.

Professional Engineering Consults will handle local engineering services, according to the contract.

A former employee of PEC, David Radcliff, recently was hired by IBTS as the group’s program manager for Central, Barrow said.

Radcliff said he couldn’t comment on the new contract Thursday but corporate officials would comment next week.

IBTS will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the municipal services center at LaCentrale Plaza, 6703 Sullivan Road, at noon June 30, Barrow said.

IBTS officials started this week moving into the center, where the public is invited to attend a reception from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 11, Barrow said.

Besides CH2M Hill, IBTS beat out CSRS Inc. and Severn Trent Services for the new contract.

CH2M Hill signed a 3-year contract with Central, costing the city $4.3 million the first year and $3.6 million in each of the following two years.

CH2M Hill spokesman Bill Doughty said Thursday the company was disappointed to lose the new contract but it appreciated Central and has been proud to serve the residents.

“We are proud of our accomplishments and we are committed to a smooth transition. We want to make sure there is not a drop-off of services the residents are accustomed to,” Doughty said.

CH2M Hill came under fire last year during the Central mayoral election after it ran an ad in The Advocate under the name “City of Central,” defending the cost of City Council-set permit fees.

Central City News Editor Woody Jenkins subsequently submitted a public records request to the city for all documents relating to the publication of the ad, citing concerns that CH2M Hill was running ads on behalf of the city without permission.

CH2M Hill fought the request, saying it was a private company not subject to certain public records requests.

CH2M Hill has won the court battles but Jenkins has appealed and the case’s outcome is pending.