Though no specific services have been contracted out, City Manager Shaun Carey wrote in his report that only police and fire services are “off the table” when it comes to possible privatization. The driving factor behind any decision to enter into a contract will be a reduction in current and future costs to the taxpayers of Sparks while maintaining service levels, according to the report.
The report to the council directly addressed the possibility of laying off city workers in favor of private contractors.
“It is not the goal of any evaluation for competitiveness to enhance service delivery quality and reduce service costs by simply reducing the number of city staff providing services. Throughout the effort, a primary goal will be the fair and respectful treatment of impacted city employees.”
However, another part of the report states, “While the city cannot guarantee there will be no staff layoffs as a result of this evaluation, the city is nevertheless committed to maintaining the maximum degree of employment stability possible for city staff adversely affected by the selection process.”
The city already uses private companies for such things as garbage collection, elevator maintenance, surveying, printing, sewer maintenance and more. Street sweeping, road crack sealing, deep patching of potholes and lawn mowing of public parks have been identified as possible areas of privatization.
Councilwoman Julia Ratti raised a question about what might happen to city-owned equipment that might sit idle in the event that its intended use is contracted to a private company. Carey said the equipment would be kept to make sure the privatization worked out as intended.
Ratti also expressed concern about businesses raising the costs of their service to the city after a couple of years at a lower rate to win contracts. Carey said all bids would be structured so the council could evaluate them individually and Councilman Ron Smith said most city contracts are fairly short term, which would alleviate concern about the city getting stuck in any unfavorable long-term deals.