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Posted on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor area officials say more privatization of local services possible

By Ryan J. Stanton


Ann Arbor school board member Susan Baskett, left, and Ypsilanti City Council Member Lois Richardson were among the five panelists who talked about privatization of local government services Monday night at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters in Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton |

As municipalities and school districts continue to face budget constraints, there will be more pressure to privatize services, a panel of local officials said Monday night.

"Your school secretary may be a contracted employee in the future," said Susan Baskett, an Ann Arbor school board trustee.

"Think hall monitors or even security at our school football games," Baskett added. "That's a possible area."

Baskett was one of five officials who spoke during a panel discussion on privatization hosted by the League of Women Voters in Ann Arbor and co-sponsored by the local alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. About 50 people attended the event at the downtown library

The five panelists shared their insights about government services in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County that already have been privatized and what might be next.

Joining Baskett on stage was Ann Arbor City Council Member Sabra Briere, former Washtenaw County Administrator Bob Guenzel, Ypsilanti City Council Member Lois Richardson, and Ypsilanti school board member Andy Fanta.

"Privatization leads me to believe that it is a world that I'm not so sure I really want to live in," Fanta said.


Ann Arbor City Council Member Sabra Briere, left, listens while Ypsilanti school board member Andy Fanta speaks Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"Does it take a wild imagination to imagine Google or its progeny digitizing court records, removing a government employee that will take the accuracy and responsibility for recording transcripts?" he said. "I don't think that's out of the question."

Fanta said the Ypsilanti school district is "under siege" concerning privatization.

"They want to privatize everything they could privatize. And the rationale for that is we have to cut costs," he said.

Fanta said he prefers to instead ask: "How do we politicize the citizens of Michigan to say it is a good thing to adequately fund pubic education?"

Baskett said declining funds and increasing retirement costs — which she said school districts "have nothing to do with except pay the bill" — have led to privatization talks.

Baskett talked about privatization she's seen occur since she joined the school board in 2003. She said it most often involves replacing current paid employees.

She pointed out a professional educational services group now does the hiring of substitute teachers for Ann Arbor and other school districts in the area.

Also in 2007, the Ann Arbor school district turned over its food service employees to Chartwells, a private for-profit company that now provides the school lunch program.

"In exchange for this contract, every year the district gets a sizable check and we're able to deposit that into our general fund," she said.

Baskett said the school board also decided recently to hire a private contractor to look after the district's heating and cooling systems instead of hiring a new full-time employee.

There probably are many future opportunities to further privatize services, she said, mentioning maintenance, plumbing, clerical services and child care as examples.

"We do offer before- and after-school care, so that's another area," she said. "As well as human resources — that's a potential area as well."

Baskett gave credit to the district's custodial employees, whom she said bargained well and made sacrifices in order to stay on as regular employees.

Briere said when she went to the city and asked to talk about privatization, she received "a little bit of a blank look back because we don't privatize very much."


Richardson said Ypsilanti outsourced its trash collection services to save money and that's been a good move. She said it's saving the city money and the service is good.

Ryan J. Stanton |

She said the city has privatized some areas of its operations, such as janitorial services, but mostly privatization in Ann Arbor has occurred in the solid waste department.

The city first hired Recycle Ann Arbor, which had been around since the 1970s, to provide curbside recycling throughout the city in 1991. Periodically over the years, Briere said, the city has put out a request for proposals and granted another contract to Recycle Ann Arbor.

"They win their contract because they come in with the best bid," she said, acknowledging there are more and more places now that are recycling and challenging that bid.

"It makes it more interesting, but it's also why we gave Recycle Ann Arbor a 15-year contract in 2010," she said. "Because a 15-year contract allowed them not to worry about whether they could put their investment into the city only to find out it was being withdrawn."

The city took another step in 2010 and decided to privatize the operation of its composting facility, which was the first time Briere dealt with a major privatization decision on council.

For years, the city had done its own composting, but it contracted those services out to a New York-based company called WeCare Organics to save money in the solid waste budget. Briere said the decision to go with a private company displaced three of the city's workers.

"We didn't lay off any workers. We didn't fire any workers," she said. "But we moved them out of the compost facility to other parts of the city government, because we have union contracts and we are very much discouraged from laying off as a way of dealing with privatizing."

Briere said it seems the city doesn't have clear policies on when it privatizes services, but what usually happens is the city's staff puts out a request for proposals and then compare costs.

Ann Arbor has twice, for instance, put out a request for proposals for trash pickup and twice the news came back that the city can provide the service cheaper, Briere said.

Guenzel said he prefers regional cooperation and sharing of services between public bodies over privatization.

"That's really where we should be spending our time," he said, noting the city of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County recently combined their dispatch operations.

"That'll save hundreds of thousands of dollars and it'll be just as good. And we've combined the offices of community development, so those are opportunities that are out there."

Briere agreed that contracting with the county for police dispatch services was the right move for the city when presented with a shortfall in its public safety budget.

"In Ann Arbor, we're challenged by a budget where, looking at it last year, we said to each other we may have to eliminate police officer positions two years running," she said. "And we've already lost enough police officers that we feel the police department isn't as effective as they want to be or as we need them to be. How do we afford all the police officers we need?"

Baskett pointed out the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts agreed to consolidate transportation services to protect the jobs and pensions of bus drivers, turning those services over to the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

"We thought we were protecting them, but they have a 40 percent turnover rate," she said. "So I would question how many of those employees that we were trying to look for are still there."

Richardson said Ypsilanti outsourced its trash collection services to save money and that's been a good move. She said it's saving the city money and the service is good.

"It does work good for us, for our city," she said. "We still have a very well-functioning department of public works that is well staffed."


Susan Greenberg, vice president of the LWV, moderated Monday's panel discussion.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Richardson said she's typically not a big proponent of privatization, though, because it often involves eliminating jobs.

"From what I've seen, it takes jobs away away from the municipality. It takes jobs away from people in the community," she said.

Guenzel was the only panelist with a background as an administrator. He spent 22 years as the county's attorney and 15 years as county administrator before retiring in 2010.

In most instances, Guenzel said, he would not favor privatization.

He said at least 75 to 80 percent of what the county does is mandated by the state or the federal government, so it makes sense to keep most county services in house.

"Sometimes privatization seems like failure on the part of public bodies," he said. "Having said that, we have an obligation, and I felt an obligation as county administrator, to examine all ways of providing services."

Especially when providing human services, Guenzel said, if the government can save on overhead and indirect costs, there are more dollars to deliver directly to services.

In addition to issues of accountability, Guenzel said there are labor issues that come into play with privatization. He pointed out unions have strong political clout.

"Michigan is still a pretty strong labor state, so if a unit of government is thinking about contracting out, it's a mandatory subject of bargaining," he said. "Most of our contracts have clauses that say something like you can't contract out if it involves layoffs of employees."

Guenzel also pointed out the county, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor have living wage ordinances that set a minimum level of pay that companies doing contract work must provide their workers.

So if the county or those cities are interested in saving money by paying people a lot less, he said, they have to face the fact that they have those policies on the books.

Guenzel said the county for years has contracted out a lot of services that most people don't think twice about. That includes paying private nonprofits to provide human services.

"These nonprofits do duties and responsibilities that the public bodies could do, but it's well accepted because the provision of human services is a hodgepodge," he said.

Guenzel said the county also has contracted out janitorial services, towing services through the sheriff's office, and ambulance services.

"When I was county attorney, part of the time I was an independent contractor, so legal services are certainly contracted out," he said.

One area where the county has not farmed out services, while other counties have, is in its public defender system, which provides legal defense to indigent persons.

"For years, folks have said, 'Why don't you contract that out? It would be much cheaper.' That's what other counties do," Guenzel said.

"And we have resisted that over the years because we felt that function was so important it needed to be performed in a professional manner by attorneys who were not necessarily concerned about how quickly they could dispose of cases."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

I agree with the comment about looking into "top heavy" administration, etc., though I disagree with hiring a consultant. Public input regarding funding those at the top will work just as well and save the "top heavy" pay of consultants. I have yet to read any defense of why the new superintendent has a $250,000 salary and has other highly paid administrators to help run a system that is neglected at the student level. Shouldn't the school system provide decent transportation before allocating half a million dollars to some top administrators? That's my reflection, even though I'm beyond the stage of having school age children. Regarding comments about the school system being insured in case an inept bus driver kills a child, it's the safety of children that's important. No amount of money/settlement can replace a child.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

I would suggest that all of these governmental units consider hiring a consultant to analyze whether these units are top heavy when it comes hiring, promoting and rewarding administrators. I bet if such a study was undertaken, you will have little discussion about privitization. When the lower level employees are the ones most likely to experience the brunt of losing their jobs, our administrators and top level bureaucrats comes extremely progressive. However, if it was their jobs on the line guarantee the conversation wold be different.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

...except they don't fire anyone when they privatize, which you would know if you read the article.

Mr. Ed

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Snoopfog can I get a raise. It's been at least 6 years since I've had one.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

Privatization = NO! Whether it be school districts or city departments. Schools especially - privatization when it comes to the children, their well being and education is unacceptable, because they are the ones losing out in the long run. Seeing a couple of my neighbor's children walking down the side of a busy street (with no sidewalk) in the snow was saddening to me and my wife. Upon calling the school district to inquire, I was told that "children should be able to walk down the street, with or without a sidewalk without getting hit." I asked about rain, snow, ice, fog and cars driving 45-50 mph, her response, "the routes and walking routes were deemed safe by the superintendent and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District." I was also told that the school district and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District felt it would be too costly to allow the bus to stop and idle for 30 seconds to let those few children on the bus, they were concerned with saving money. PATHETIC, and shame on everyone involved in the decision making. I hope that those making these decisions would take the time look out for the children and not just saving money and their own jobs by cutting from the children. The children are whom we need to protect and look out for. They look up to and expect parents, administrators and leaders to be the ones to fight for them, not take away from them and give them sub-par services and LESS than they themselves were given.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

You have a problem with the AAPS and WISD, so you complain about the *private* sector? Wow.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

When AAPS got privatized? Everyone lost. including those who cared.about the children. Once Trinity gets in? The children will loose even bigger because the drivers do not care about anything except their jobs. Good luck to those who did care.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

We have to pay for Snyder's billion dollar payout to our local One Percent somehow.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

The real issue here is that taxes have been reduced for 30 years for no good reason other than the far right wanting "less government". Then after the economy was crashed by the large firms on Wall Street, local and state tax revenues dropped even further. Now we have people who blame the public sector for "out of control" spending when its just the opposite, "out of control" tax cuts which led to lower and lower revenue each year and "out of control" Wall Street banks that have precipitated the largest decline in our economy in 80 years. Taxes as a percentage of GNP have dropped from 18% during Reagan to about 14% now, so there should be no complaints about how much we pay in taxes. But, the Republicans only response to the problems we are having is to decrease taxes even more. Evidence, the Rickster cutting $1.8B from business taxes and cutting education by 15% in one year and every year from now on. There is just not enough money to run a decent educational system anymore. We are down to bickering about privatization and how to save a dime here and a dime there and threatening to cut benefits of the retirees who worked hard at their jobs while expecting a long stable retirement. We can see that education is underfunded from the test scores, graduation rates, and how many jobs in Michigan are not filled because we don't have educated people to fill them.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:16 a.m.

So, how much funding did public schools get 30 years ago, and how much do they get now?


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

Outstanding post. It's unfortunate for us all that it represents a minority opinion. I disagree with you about whether there's enough money to run a decent education system, because I think there is, and it's being misallocated, but everything else is spot on.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

How do you spend millions of dollars on a composting facility and equipment, later decide to privatize the service but fail to terminate the employees. Is there any reality in the public sector. I can't speak for every business owner, but if there's no work, there's no job. It's not personal, it's a business decision.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Privatize the teachers. How did they manage to screw the taxpayers with retirement after 25 years. That means they can retire at 47 year old if they started teaching out of college. WHO RETIRES AT 47??? Unions have no business in the public sector. Strong arming tax payers to meet their demands is wrong. Prevailing wages and benefits should always be used when calculating public employee wages and benefits.

Roger Parlett

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

At Ford Motor, if your weight or chlorestoral is high- you pay more out of pocket for insurance. If they are serious about reducing costs this is an easy one.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

Lois Richardson won't represent your own constituents, but has plenty of time to be on a panel. Lois, you've given us nothing but horrible representation for 12 years. Please retire from public service. Pretty please.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

That's why Lois Richardson is still representing your community. She does nothing but criticize progressive efforts. The people of Ypsilanti will continue to elect her to city council as long as she is able to breath and get to the council meetings. The people of Ypsilanti have very low expectations of their elected officials so they get what they deserve.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

Are we still cutting school costs and any other public services? What happened to all the jobs promised by the republicans that would restore tax revenue? Maybe it will take more years of tax breaks for the job creators,nudge,nudge.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

In 1980, The UAW talked about a 36 hour work week so it could continue to employ the same number of workers even though machines could do their jobs for less. Now look at the UAW, 75% smaller than 1980 and a lot weaker! School districts and Local Governments still think like the UAW did back in the 1980's, Taxpayers and voters in the mean time face the "Brave New World" daily and wonder why the Schools and Governments don't also?

Angry Moderate

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:14 a.m.

You sound confused, johnnya2. The UAW owns a gigantic pile of stock.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

Total lies. Union participation was at its highest and guess what? The income gap was at its lowest. The dissolving of unions has led to CEOs making 100's of millions while the middle calls has lost or stagnated at best. If companies believe CEO's are so important and do such a great job, why don't they share some of the stock perks with the unions. Tell the unions we will give you the same deal we give to the CEO. If they hit numbers, they get stock. That stock can be held and used for employee benefits and raises. Of course they do not want to share in the wealth, they want to hoard it. Hoarding of anything is a disease that can be treated with lots of therapy,


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

Don't even get me started about the UAW. They have done more damage to the economy then one can shake a stick at.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

"Briere said the decision to go with a private company displaced three of the city's workers. "We didn't lay off any workers. We didn't fire any workers," she said. "But we moved them out of the compost facility to other parts of the city government, because we have union contracts and we are very much discouraged from laying off as a way of dealing with privatizing." That's about as ridiculous as it gets. If the goal of privatization is to generate payroll and benefits costs savings, how does adding the cost of a private company to the salaries/benefits of employees you just moved around accomplish anything? If you're not getting rid of the payroll costs, how did any money get "saved."?

Sabra C Briere

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

The City didn't terminate any staff. Instead, staff members were allowed to fill positions as other staff members retired or left City employ voluntarily. The end result of such decisions is that the City has fewer employees, and thus fewer expenditures.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

So what does privatizing really mean? In essence, its paying another company to provide a service for your company or institution. The company you hire will have to make a profit, so who picks up the slack? That slack is the wage you are paying the company and the wage the company pays the person doing the job. Fascinating to me are the unspoken implications: *The cost savings is because the hiring institution cannot get someone to work for that same money, while the hired company can. Anyone want to posit a reason why? Unions? Lowered hiring standards? Less benefits? No benefits? The hypocritical position on the part of several sides here is really something to behold. *Our kids are the most important part of our future and the quality of people who educate them or serve them matters. Unless they are too expensive or unreasonable in their demands. Then we don't really care. Then the people they come in contact with daily can be anyone who breaths and can do the job. Lets look as well at the example we set for our kids about how we solve our problems and treat others. Not much of one here, in my opinion.

Susie Q

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

Great post! You obviously know the issues.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Fanta said: " The Ypsilanti School District is "under siege" concerning privatization." And the taxpayers have been "under siege" to the run-a-way" out of control cost increases due to ridiculous pension costs, unfunded pension liability, automatic step increases, little or no out of pocket health care costs for employees, Cadillac insurance ( MEESA), ridiculous number of sick days--personal days--professional days, full retirement at 30 years service no matter how young one is, health care till you and your spouse die. And the list just goes on and on. While the taxpayers make an average of 20% less than they did 10 years ago, how much more do public sector workers make compared to 10 years ago ? And we all know that private sector benefits come no where close to the public sector and we are your employers. Unions should be outlawed in the public sector, have no problem with them in the private sector but quit holding a gun to our heads. The country of "Greece" is now our official poster child for where we are heading in the USA. Good Day


Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

You'll have better luck talking to a brick wall.

Susie Q

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 2:33 a.m.

Snoop, As usual your comments are a little off the mark. Many of the costs you mention are completely out of the control of the local districts: the cost of pensions (they are not bargained at the local level, which I am sure you know), gasoline and energy prices, health care cost go up every year no matter where you work, the cost of endless paperwork and audits by the state, the cost of purchasing more and more standardized tests, software for accounting teacher professional development, etc, etc. Many of these are unfunded mandates from federal and state government. Unions are not the problem.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

You caught on to the union conspiracy Snoop. We're all trying to break your pocket book. Just yours. You caught us. Guess we need to think out our plan more carefully.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

SnoopDog, Do you realize that the Michigan State Employees' Retirement System was closed to new participants in 1997? (All state employees hired since that time have been given a defined contribution retirement plan.) Do you realize that at the time the pension plan was closed to new members, the state pension system was FULLY FUNDED? (The pension system "developed" an underfunding problem after the state borrowed money from it, and then declined to make its scheduled payments and repayments. The underfunding issue is one that was created entirely by our elected officials, not by the people who have pensions and not by the unions.) Do you realize that earlier this month, the MERS had to make a $630,000 bond payment because our state legislators and our former governor used the pension system's assets to guarantee $18 million in bonds issued for Raleigh Michigan Studios as part of Granny's great film industry program? The company missed the February 1 payment, which meant that the pension system was left to pick up the tab. (And it will be picking up the next missed payment, and the next, until all $18 million have been repaid.) It's no wonder that the pension system is underfunded, when our legislators use it as their private candy store. Put the blame where it belongs, please.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

"talking points" ? Ridiculous, these are facts. Oh well, what flavor are you drinking , I gave kool aid when I became an adult ! Good Day


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

@snoopdog: An apples-and-oranges comparison along with multiple false premises. This is the sorry state of Republican talking points these days. You're blaming the wrong people, as usual.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

They already use Trinity. What more privatization can they do? All of it? I really hope they consolidate, kick WISD and Trinity out and get back to business as usual.

Momma G

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

You want to privatize? Does that include the "executive" secretaries who are paid more money than school secretaries? That might be your first move, privatize them first. Wonder how the superintendent would like to have an outsider handle her calendar, meetings, etc. I doubt it would go over very well, but maybe getting those high-paid secretaries to take a pay cut would help out. Oh and then HRS, that should be interesting if you outsource those employees. Good luck AAPS! There is a lot of waste going on in that district and I thought Susan Baskett was for the employees!

Angry Moderate

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:10 a.m.

Lol, jonnya2, would you like to back up your conspiracy theories? School districts carry insurance to cover accidents. Lots of schools have private busing, can you link to a single one that went bankrupt to avoid paying for a wrongful death?


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

@ Harry, Themain difference is if the driver is an EMPLOYEE of the school district, they have the right to tell them how to do their job. A private firm can hire anybody they want and hope for the best. If they are incompetent or kill a kid, the company will declare BK and the parents will get NOTHING. I want some level of accountability to people who are doing a job. This is classic outsourcing. How many people are happy when they call a computer company and get a call that is routed to who knows where, and the person has no ability to so anything other than apologize. Many companies are seeing the error in outsourcing (which is what this is). They want control of how they go to market.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

I agree with you. Privatize everyone.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

JNS Fire those drivers and hire good one. Being in a union does not automatically make you a good worker. Actually quite to the contrary. The union has ways to protect useless employees. I know first hand. A union employee was stealing. Instead of firing him they retired him. 5 years early full benefits. Not only did he not get punished but he was rewarded. The employees took him out and he had a great retirement party.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

It is a sad fact when WISD realizes that they cannot get good quality drivers so they bring in Trinity who pays their employees low wages just to do a job. This job is carrying children to and from school. I saw a Trinity driver off loading children a while back. The children were standing and dancing in the aisles while the driver looked on. That is face the of privatization. Drivers who do not care.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

Privatization, while at times necessary, is a dangerous tactic that often lessens the quality of life. And with the scandalous actions on Wall Street leading to a further decline in revenue throughout all levels of government, government itself, not just these peripheral services, are in jeopardy. Soon all of government will be privatized, which will only delight the tea party and other far rights groups not to mention the rich backers who fund these groups. I smell a rat, and a poisonous one at that.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

I would tend to be supportive of the concept of contracted services for specific services if it truly does save costs. I have yet to see this clearly demonstrated. That being said, I have witnessed consistent problems of custodial services this year. Even basic tasks of refilling paper towel holders and emptying classroom wastebaskets get overlooked on a routine basis. Feedback to the custodial staff? Forget it. Routinely staff move from school to school. Custodial staff, especially evening staff, have no building "loyalty"...they are employed by a third party and ultimately they answer to them. Now there is a suggestion of contracting out secretarial services. These staff are routinely on the very front lines of interacting with our youngest children for a variety of reasons. In the elementary and middle school levels these folks are the "first responders" to needs that range from bloody noses, forgotten lunches, anxious or angry parents and they also serve as the communication hub in these schools. I am not in favor of these folks being contractual employees who have no building or pupil "loyalty" and who ultimately answer to an off site employer...or who may routinely move or be moved by their employer.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

Wow, this is really rude to private sector workers. You think that only government employees care about their jobs and customers? As if there are no incompetent secretaries and custodians in the public sector.

mike gatti

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

Either way you cut it means downward pressure on wages, which means lower tax revenues and less consumer spending (which means less sales tax revenue) and less revenue means more cuts to school and municipal budgets and more cuts to school and municipal budgets means more downward pressure on wages, which means. . . Never mind that you have to be a real creep to want to tell people that their work ain't worth nothing.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.

You skipped the part where government spending is lower, so citizens get to keep more of their paycheck, and use it for consumer spending.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 11:41 a.m.

Frankly, I say NO to privatization to any department within the school district or city. It does not save money and in the long run is less efficient. Just take a look at the out sourced lunches -- more expensive and not all that great. I say, let the school board/school administration and the city fathers become more responsible with how they spend the tax payers dollars.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

The facts that needs to be considered when considering whether to privatize or not is this: Can a private firm achieve economies of scale by combining the city's work with that of others, eliminating dead time and inefficiencies, bringing in part-time managers that are shared with other locations, and thereby achieve true cost savings. Or, are they just cutting the pay of the workers and allowing the city council to hide this ugly fact. If the former, great, if the latter, the city should be ashamed.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

Jim? You might want to come out right and say it. They hired those retirees to fill in where they, WISD could not get more drivers. At $22 a pop I can see why they do not leave and the rest do. The custodians are next and so is the rest of transportation. A sad fact of life I must admit.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

It does depend upon the pay of the workers, I remember back when the Ann Arbor Schools privatized their bus drivers and reduced their already modest pay. There are some government officials, though, who could use a pay cooling off period, and who were promised retirement benefits that were much too generous. While it is wrong to break that promise, it is also wrong to make similar promises to others in the future.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

"Privatization leads me to believe that it is a world that I'm not so sure I really want to live in," Fanta said. In other words working in the private sector means being accountable and spending within the budget?


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

"In exchange for this contract, every year the district gets a sizable check and we're able to deposit that into our general fund," she said. (Susan Baskett). Very interesting - the budget shows the food service at AAPS as a wash (cost = income). I wonder which is right? ------ Like it or not, until the benefit costs for public workers is on par with the cost of benefits for private sector workers, privitization will continue. I am not saying it is right or wrong, only that this component, far more than salaries is where the difference is between the private sector and the public sector in Michigan. As the unfunded liability for public sector workers continues to increase, the local government units have only a few choices: 1) Raise taxes 2) Reduce services 3) Reduce worker head count 4) Privatize 5) Raise the age or retirement to something closer to 65 (most public workers can retire with a score of 80 (years of service+age) - or about age 55. Even if government privaizes, It is the cost of health care and retirement for private sector workers that will take an ever larger chunk of your tax dollars over the next decade. This is because so many of the people who have retired will be drawing retirement benefits for the next 30+ years. If people were smart, they would raise the retirement score from 80 to 85 for those people over 50, to 90 for those over 45 and to 100 for those people under 40. Yes, some people would leave the public sector - but it would be possible to sustain a public sector workforce.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

So has the food since privatization. Food quality and everything else when our children are involved. Custodial and bus service are next.