Mind your PPPs and Qs
PUBLIC WORKS readers weigh in on privatization.
Public-private partnerships continue to be a hotly debated concept among public works leaders. In response to a recent query in PUBLIC WORKS' latest monthly e-newsletter, “Public Works Business Update,” our readers shared how privatization works—and how it doesn't.
Contractors don't always respond in as timely a manner as they should. When providing a public service, time is of the essence. We cannot be put off or put on a waiting list. This is what you have when you privatize public service.
One of these areas would be the removal of snow and ice. I'm not sure that, with seasonal equipment and materials, a private company can economically have these around when needed. You know as well as I do that it is the customer who picks up the bill, and someone will have to pay for this storage.
—James Williams, District One/ Area Two public service administrator II, Kansas DOT
We are called an “enterprise department” of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This means that although we generate our own money (70% of our load is from industry), we're still a city department. The city does human-resource administration, safety, etc., and we take advantage of the Iowa government employees retirement program.
We're more cost-effective than a private company would be, because our profits go back to the community—either in support of other departments or in savings for future growth. This helps keep Cedar Rapids the second-lowest in taxes of all the cities in Iowa.
— Tom Fuller, preventative maintenance supervisor, Cedar Rapids, Iowa