Question of the Week: Outsourcing
Each week through the General Election, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. Week two question: What is your position on outsourcing city services or privatizing facilities? What if, any, areas would you like to see explored? What, if any, areas should not be considered?
Peter Brandt (I)
Outsourcing of municipal services should be a “good business,” not an emotional decision. For the purposes of minimizing the tax burden on the residents of a municipality, if any service can be delivered more economically and cost effectively while still providing equal or superior quality of service, it should be done! The key phrase here is “equal or superior quality of service.” If that can’t be assured, outsourcing should not be done. If outsourcing is entered into with the expectation of certain quality of service and that is not achieved, exit clauses without penalties must be in place in the contracts.
Although I don’t believe municipalities should compete in the same arenas as private enterprise, I’m not in favor of total “privatization” of established municipal activities
John Carioscia Sr.
Council members are stewards of taxpayers money and as such they must constantly be vigilant when spending public funds. That being said, the Governmental Accountability Office found that methods by which privatization consultants conduct projections of savings and report contract costs can make cost savings appear greater than they actually are. The association that reports on Cape Coral’s comprehensive annual financial report, The Government Finance Officers Association, is quoted as saying it estimates that hidden and indirect costs can add up to 25% to the contract price offered by the private companies. Outsourcing should always be a consideration to determine the best use of public funds as well as the quality of service that should be delivered, but caution should also be used because research on privatizing has found that it could become a slippery slope especially in the areas of public safety.
William Deile (I)
Outsourcing/Privatization is a growing trend where services can be improved, where services can be accomplished less expensively, where expertise is lacking or where there is conflict of interest. Competition in the free market drives cost containment and product improvement. The Sheriff has outsourced meal preparation in the jails, Fort Myers has outsourced two city golf courses, Bonita Springs has outsourced water and sewer as has North Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres. Cape Coral has private garbage collection, street sweeping and landscaping. As a minimum all non-core government functions should be continually reviewed and considered for outsourcing/privatization. Core services such as police and fire should not be considered.
Leonard Nesta Jr.
At this time I don’t know of any areas that should be privatized. I am open minded and will explore issues that are brought forward.
I am not in favor of outsourcing or privatizing core city services such as public safety or the water and sewer department that affect the health, safety or welfare of our citizens. The amenities of this city should also stay under the control and management of the city. Before outsourcing any major functions, such as dredging or park maintenance, the city needs the personnel and expertise in place to properly write and manage those contracts. The city currently employs many contract employees who perform numerous duties and this is a form of outsourcing that is an acceptable way to limit employee costs during difficult economic times or to handle temporary increases in the workload.
Wm. “Scott” Morris
Any consideration of outsourcing services or privatizing facilities must include an accurate and detailed cost/benefit analysis and the input of our citizens. Only with accurate information, and citizen input, should the issue be discussed and then only on a case by case basis. One of the most important considerations is whether or not the City would lose control. At present, I am not aware of any area I would like to see explored. The health, safety and welfare of the citizens is the primary purpose of local government. Public safety, police and fire should not be outsourced nor privatized.
Outsourcing – the hiring of another company to take over and run a service better and more efficiently. Every area within the city should be subject to an analysis of its operations compared with its potential outsourcing. Just the possibility that a city may outsource a service can give city service providers the incentive they need to improve service and efficiency. With respect to privatization – the transfer of ownership from the city to a privately owned entity – what we are trying to achieve has to be clearly articulated before I would consider this option. I lean more towards public/private partnerships.
Outsourcing of services should be considered only when there is a substantial, demonstrated benefit to the people of Cape Coral. WastePro, for example, provides excellent service at a price that has consistently declined over the past three years. Future one-time projects such as construction projects for Cape Coral could be outsourced to a local quality contractor. An area that is a bad idea to outsource is the Fire Department. Estero tried privatizing their Fire Department years ago and it cost an employee their life as well as the city a lot of money to bring back their own service.