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‘Outsourcing’ plea draws interest

By Staff | Sep 25, 2010

In response to an e-mail from a Cape Coral business owner asking that the city outsource services as a way to cut personnel costs and so city taxes, at least two Cape Coral council members responded in agreement with one saying the city manager’s office is working on “several initiatives.”
Councilmember Bill Deile responded to Leapin’ Lizards owner Mary Ann Evans’ input related to the city budget by saying he agreed with the views expressed.
‘Thank you for your excellent letter,” Deile wrote. “I agree 100% especially on outsourcing. I believe our City Manager has similar views. We discussed this idea and he is working on several initiatives.”
Councilmember Pete Brandt, who has already suggested the city look at turning its water services operations over to a private company, also wrote back to Evans, thanking her for her input saying, “I think you’re ‘right on.'”
In her e-mail Evans maintained Cape property taxes are 50 percent higher than the rest of the county and are “killing city economic growth.” Since opening, she said she has paid “an extra $60,000 in after tax revenue for Cape property taxes” as compared to businesses across the river.
She suggested council outsource “everything you can.”
Evans could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
Where the city might be in consideration of either “outsourcing” — having a private company provide services currently provided by city employees — or “privatization,” — turing city-owned facilities over to private enterprise to run and operate — was not clear Friday.
Other than Brandt bringing discussion on water services to a council workshop and some talk of partnering for solid waste disposal, no proposals have been publically made or discussed.
Deile said Friday evening that the city was not looking at outsourcing public safety, except to possibly use security guard services instead of sworn officers at city events for cost savings.
He said there has been discussion of outsourcing waste management, citing the recent Red Energy Group as an example of a possible public/private partnership.
Police and Fire, though, Deile said, have not been discussed.
“As far as I know there have been no proposals,” Deile said.
Pete Brandt could not be reached for comment.
In addition to thanking Evans via e-mail for her input he also solicited a little community and political support, first for help in boosting attendance at his town hall meetings and then for the 2011 election.
“I’m intrigued by your offer to ‘rally voters’, and would like to offer a couple of suggestions. The first is to please help us get out the vote for those of us that are trying to represent all the residents and business owners in as fair a manner as we can find who are going to stand for reelection in 2011,” Brandt wrote in his Sept. 22 response.
One other council member also responded.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said turning the city over to the lowest bidder for vital services would doom the city to “Lehigh’s fate.”
Mayor John Sullivan said Friday that he did not know what city services, if any, might be under consideration for outsourcing.
Sullivan said he had no other information, and had not been informed as to any efforts by the city manager’s office to pursue or explore outsourcing city services.
City Manager Gary King said he did not know what Deile was referencing in his email.
He said at this point there are no discussions to outsource any of the city’s major departments, such as Police or Fire.
“I literally don’t know what he’s referring to,” King said of Deile’s e-mail.
Personnel costs constituted most of the public discussion this budget session.
Council first considered a budget tendered by then-City Manager Carl Schwing that held the tax rate and supplemented costs with some $6.2 million in reserve funds saved this budget year and moved to next.
King then presented a second budget proposal that also held the tax rate but recommended preserving the reserves by cutting 6.7 percent from payroll across all departments, including $2 million from police and $1.7 million from fire.
Before a packed house of mostly city workers at the final public hearing, council passed a compromise budget that restored $4.5 million of the reserve funds back into the budget while cutting payroll about 2 percent.