Springfield City Council Opposes Forestry, DPW Privatization

Posted on Thursday, March 26 2009 by Heather Brandon

At its meeting this week, the Springfield City Council unanimously passed a resolution initially submitted by Councilor Bud Williams, opposing the efforts of Mayor Domenic Sarno and the Finance Control Board to privatize the forestry division of the Parks Department and the vehicle maintenance division of the Department of Public Works.

Less a direct concern about the welfare of trees, the resolution references “past privatization attempts” which “have been met with poor results” in fiscal savings as well as effective performance. The resolution notes that no independent studies have been done to ascertain whether savings or performance would benefit. It also suggests a focus on privatizing management instead of staff.

The city council suggests an independent “comprehensive study” to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” (as though there were a crime committed somewhere) that privatizing will save cash and maintain a high level of service. The text of the resolution is below; a related committee meeting was scheduled for today at noon at City Hall.

Track other activities via City Council records somewhat recently made available online here.

City of Springfield
City Council, March 23, 2009
Resolution opposing privatization of the city’s forestry division

WHEREAS, the City of Springfield is facing financial challenges in the current fiscal year and for the foreseeable future due to state budget reductions, and

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Control Board have taken steps to balance the budget for Fiscal Year 2009, including layoffs of experienced city employees, not withstanding recommendations from Council Members for a hiring and spending freeze dating back to October, 2008 in preparation for mid year 9-C cuts from the Governor, and

WHEREAS, certain City Departments Heads are now advocating to privatize city services, including the latest proposals to privatize Forestry Services within the Park Department, and the vehicle maintenance department of the Department of Public Works (DPW), and

WHEREAS, the City Council recognizes and values the quality work of city employees, and

WHEREAS, past privatization attempts by the City, which have included custodians, cafeteria workers and street sweeping, have been met with poor results on the savings side as well as the performance side of the equation, and

WHEREAS, no independent studies have been undertaken by administration officials to demonstrate cost savings and attainment of a better level of the performance of services by privatizing, and

WHEREAS, City employees in the past have not had a realistic chance to conduct their own analysis of privatizing services; or been in a position to compete for the contract for said services, and

WHEREAS, no studies have ever been undertaken relative to first privatizing the management of departments in an attempt to demonstrate savings; to specifically include the positions of department head and mid level managers of the department; with only the rank and file positions being subject to privatization,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Springfield City Council opposes efforts by the Mayor and Control Board to privatize the Forestry Division of the Park Department and the vehicle maintenance department of the DPW; until such time that a comprehensive study is completed by an independent analyst to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that privatizing saves taxpayer dollars and that the level of services will be comparable; and that city employees be given the necessary resources to conduct similar analysis; and that any such study includes privatizing mid level and upper management positions within said department.

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