Outsourcing is necessary in gov’t

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, May 19, 2016

Local government provides its citizens with a variety of services. The cost of all forms of government keeps going up. Some cities and towns are crying for help. Middle income groups are moving out of some rural towns and cities. Low income groups are populating many cities and towns. High-wage industries have long left the cities. Local government is facing financial strains.

Services that municipalities can no longer provide are now being contracted to private vendors and counties, from policing to trash collection. This is known as outsourcing. Outsourcing involves the contracting out of a business practice to another party. Outsourcing is also the practice of handing over control of public services to for profit corporations. The most important advantage of outsourcing is that it saves money. Some county sheriff departments have policing contracts with cities located within their county. Parks and recreation, crossing guards, cemetery services, trash collection, janitorial services, code enforcement, building inspection, payroll and building maintenance are currently outsourced by many municipalities. The issue of outsourcing can become political with employees being laid off. Cities and towns can face expensive lawsuits when they lay off employees.

The city does not have to pay employees’ insurance and other benefits when outsourcing. Nevertheless, a town or city is not an employment agency.

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The decision to outsource has to be carefully scrutinized to measure cost and quality services. It is not a “one size fits all’ solution to reducing the cost of government. Hopefully, some of the newly elected local officials, as a result of the August 2016 election, will wisely consider outsourcing services to bring about a more efficient and fiscally managed government. The city government of Selma is commended for outsourcing its garbage collection.