Phil Kent: Georgia Cities Can Save With Service Privatization


Phil Kent: Georgia Cities Can Save With Service Privatization

My friend Phil Kent has started a page on Facebook called “Georgia Cities Can Save With Service Privatization” based on the success of municipalities across the nation in providing traditional public services through contracts with private vendors. Usually, residents find they receive better service for less money, a winning situation for everyone.

In Metro Atlanta, Sandy Springs proved the most comprehensive user of privatized municipal services.

A 2012 New York Times article profiled Sandy Springs, which incorporated on December 1, 2005, becoming the sixth largest city in the state and the largest city ever to incorporate.

Cities have dabbled for years with privatization, but few have taken the idea as far asSandy Springs. Since the day it incorporated, Dec. 1, 2005, it has handed off to private enterprise just about every service that can be evaluated through metrics and inked into a contract.

To grasp how unusual this is, consider what Sandy Springs does not have. It does not have a fleet of vehicles for road repair, or a yard where the fleet is parked. It does not have long-term debt. It has no pension obligations. It does not have a city hall, for that matter, if your idea of a city hall is a building owned by the city. Sandy Springs rents.

The town does have a conventional police force and fire department, in part because the insurance premiums for a private company providing those services were deemed prohibitively high. But its 911 dispatch center is operated by a private company, iXP, with headquarters in Cranbury, N.J.

Does the Sandy Springs approach work? It does for Sandy Springs, says the city manager, John F. McDonough, who points not only to the town’s healthy balance sheet but also to high marks from residents on surveys about quality of life and quality of government services.

On August 13th, the Brookhaven City Council will discuss privatizing sanitation services.

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