Clutching the Sewers: The Foul Smell of a Missed Opportunity
Last week, the Arnold City Council decided against selling its sewers to Missouri American Water. It appears that the elected city officials did not care for the terms of the sale. From the Arnold Patch:
“It was clear that not enough assurances could be provided to ensure the protection of the City’s residents or the City employees who were proposed to join American Water,” [Arnold Mayor Ron] Counts said in a news release on Friday afternoon.
Any city should consider the costs of a decision, and I am glad that Arnold took the time to analyze those costs before making a decision. However, I believe there are benefits which may outweigh the costs. Should the city ever again be presented with the opportunity to sell its sewers, I hope city officials will fully consider the advantages of privatization. Here are a few examples from an op-ed that I wrote on the topic, untimely published five days after the decision not to sell (untimely due to bad luck, not a lack of effort):
- Arnold’s sewers are in dire straits. The city would face less of a financial difficulty if it relied on private capital to fund renovations and repairs.
- Private ownership leads to more efficient uses of labor and capital. Privatization can produce savings relative to bureaucratic management.
- The city of Arnold would obtain monetary benefits from the sale. When Florissant sold its water utility in 2002, it was able to establish a $10 million reserve fund. Arnold could use the revenue to establish its own reserve fund, pay down debt, or lower taxes.
For more Show-Me Institute commentary on privatization, click here.