Cities Are Looking to Contract Services to Private Agencies

If you live in San Jose, California and you see a stranger cleaning your street, city hall or your local city council member office. The city has contracted all janitorial services a to outside firm. San Jose also contracted workers for the city’s swimming pools.

“These are cases where the question is being asked, ‘Is this a core service at the city level?’ ” said Michelle McGurk, senior policy adviser to the San Jose mayor.

All across the country cities, towns, townships and villages have began using outside help as a way to save money. These communities have use budget cuts and layoff of city workers in the past.This is trend  of using outsourcing basic services including janitorial, safety to private business.

A report by the National League of Cities finds American Cities and towns are between $56 Billion and $86 Billion in deficits between 2010 and 2012.

“You can do across-the-board cuts for only so long,” said Andrew Belknap, Western Regional Vice President for Management Partners, a government consulting group. “It’s gone from the tactical cost cutting to get through a recession, to in some cases saying we have to exit that business or service altogether.”

In Southern California, city of Maywood a suburb southeast of Los Angeles, has contracted all city services to the neighboring city of Bell to save money after the city’s insurance company canceled it policy due to its court settlements and judgments cost the city $21 million. Maywood city council terminated all city services and laid off call city workers.

Officers of the former Maywood Police Department went to court earlier this month to ask the judge to place an injunction against the city so the officers keep their jobs. The judge disagreed and the police department disbanded.

Contracting city services is nothing new. Lakewood,Ca another suburb of Los Angeles near Long Beach created the Lakewood Plan in the 1950’s.  The Lakewood Plan an internationally recognized program of contracting 40% city services. Lakewood contracts police, fire, library  and trash services to either Los Angeles County or with private business (BZ Disposal for trash service).

Newly Incorporate city of Johns Creek,GA in north Fulton County 30 miles north of Atlanta contract nearly all city services with CH2M Hill. Only the Police, Fire, and city Management maintained by City Hall.

“The county was hard-pressed to provide the services here that people wanted and expected,” said Doug Nurse, the city’s spokesman, and a CH2M Hill employee. “We had everything in place. We were good to go.”

Wall Street Journal has the rest of story.

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