Kansas City to Take a Hard Look at How It Provides Services
According to the Reason Foundation, New York Governor Mario Cuomo said about privatization, “It is not a government’s obligation to provide services, but to see that they are provided.” That statement perfectly sums up the inspiring choice by Kansas City leadership to study and consider the potential to make greater use of the private sector in Kansas City’s infrastructure management and delivery.
I want to be very clear from the beginning that Kansas City is NOT considering full-scale privatization of its infrastructure, as I recommended the city of St. Louis do with its water division. Kansas City leaders will study the potential for contracting with private partners to manage facilities, including wastewater treatment, parking, and more. Today’s Kansas City Star has a very good story about yesterday’s committee meeting (which I attended). Mayor Mark Funkhouser and the members of the committee deserve a great deal of credit for their willingness to consider these possibilities for the taxpayers and residents of Kansas City.
This type of operations and management (O&M) outsourcing can have great benefits for the city and its people. Oklahoma City has had great success after outsourcing its wastewater treatment plants in 1984. Anyone who thinks that this type of original thinking always fails or hurts taxpayers simply needs to look at the success in Oklahoma City for the other view. Like anything, these types of efforts can be executed either well or poorly. Although privatization failures exist, Oklahoma City represents only one example of success out of many. I look forward to sharing them with you as this discussion moves forward.