PORTAGE —A city report says the first year of privatized water and sewer services was a huge success, but a union official who opposed the move in early 1997 says otherwise.

According to the city, Portage saved $785,000 in the first year of management of its water and sewer services by Earth Tech, Inc., and that all the former city employees who transferred to the private company are still employed there. All areas of service delivery, according to the city's report as cited in a Kalamazoo Gazette story, were maintained and in some key areas, were "improved dramatically" after privatization.

Thomas Centilla, a steward for a Teamsters union local, however, maintains that employee morale is low at Earth Tech's Portage operation. He works for the city, not Earth Tech, and has been off the job since last September because of a back injury, reports the Gazette.