Take your Ball and Go Home?

Hit the road Jack

As reported, the Commission is trying to save the Parks and Leisure program by giving it away. Well, they are not actually giving away the property; they are trying to outsource the operations.

This represents some issues. Parks and Leisure is a lifestyle and quality of life issue. There are plenty of arguments that if privatization occurs, access could be restricted. You could even argue that it is reverse wealth redistribution because while everyone pays to build it, now only those that can afford it can enjoy it.

Whatever happens, the privatization movement is well underway. “A good contract can actually make a park board’s goals more clear. Setting up such a contract may be the closest many park boards ever come to real strategic planning. It requires them to think through things that may otherwise get left up to the squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease management system.” However, I think it has become the difference between public and private compensation models that may be the real driver to the savings.

I think we can agree that the YMCA or whoever takes over Parks and Rec will not be doing it for free. And this is certainly not going to be a profit center for the County. I think the model shown below for state parks is probably a good model for how it should work in the county:














The key word is partnership. If the County sets up the right checks and balances, then I think it could work.

Unfortunately, the former director of Parks and Rec decided not play the privatization game. I guess he doesn’t see the trend and wanted no part of it. I guess I can’t blame him. By privatizing the operations, the County looks to be blending the operational efficiency gain with a user based fee system. As the private company charges fees, they should be able to offset what they charge the county going forward reducing the taxpayer’s burden in future budget years.

This should be interesting to see how it looks in a couple of months.

Hugh Hall County Akston



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