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City looks at privatization to cut costs, keep service
by Joshua H. Silavent
Jan 24, 2011 | 1900 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune File/Debra Reid - Snow removal is among the city-provided services that the City Council will today consider for privatization as a way of cutting costs while maintaining service levels. The council meeting will begin at 2 p.m. at the Council Chambers.
Tribune File/Debra Reid - Snow removal is among the city-provided services that the City Council will today consider for privatization as a way of cutting costs while maintaining service levels. The council meeting will begin at 2 p.m. at the Council Chambers.
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SPARKS — The City Council today will hear a policy proposal for evaluating whether city services can be privatized at a reduced cost while maintaining service levels.

The policy has been developed in response to budget shortfalls and declining tax revenues.

Street sweeping, road crack sealing, deep patching of potholes and lawn mowing of public parks have been identified as possible areas of privatization. Officials said that more services — snow removal, for example — could be up for consideration if the outsourcing efforts prove cost-effective and performance levels can be sustained.

Evaluating whether city-run services can be outsourced to private industry at a reduced cost to taxpayers will allow for better operation and management of services even if they are ultimately kept in-house, officials said.

In addition, identifying risk factors, ensuring service levels are not diminished and providing for a fair and competitive bidding process are all objectives of the privatization policy, according to staff reports.

In consent items on today’s meeting agenda, the council is expected to approve a list of pro tempore judges for the Sparks Municipal Court who can fill in when regular judges are absent due to illness, vacation or other complication. Dean Heidrich, Michael Specchio, Cheryl Field-Lang and Jim Van Winkle have been selected.

Finally, the council is expected to approve changes to the planned development handbook for the Legends at Sparks Marina.

As reported in the Sparks Tribune last month, the Planning Commission has agreed to language amendments that will allow for additional, multi-year phases for construction of a hotel-casino at the Legends. Prior restrictions limited development in the area to just two phases.

Other approved amendments to the handbook allow for an expansion to the duration and number of special events in the area, place fewer stringent requirements on landscaping, and adopt several new sign standards.

The City Council will meet at 2 p.m. today in the legislative building located at 745 Fourth St.
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