St. George: A Privatized City

St. George: A Privatized City

Leaders of the movement to incorporate the proposed City of St. George say they plan to organize the new city based on a 21st century model, rather than the 19th century model used in the vast majority of American cities.

For Norman Browning and other leaders of St. George, that means privatization, or contracting with private enterprise to provide governmental services.  Browning says privatization will be far less expensive than traditional government but also far more efficient.

Only a handful of American cities are fully privatized.  Virtually all were incorporated within the past 10 years.  In Louisiana, only the City of Central (pop. 28,000) is privatized. After nine years as a city, its city budget is only about 25 percent of traditional cities of the same size, and it runs large surpluses every year.

Like Central, St. George will continue to use the Sheriff’s office as the primary law enforcement agency in the city and not create a traditional police force, Browning said.

When the City of Central asked for Requests for Proposals four years ago, four firms made proposals to manage the city.  The prior city contractor, CH2MHill, a $6 billion firm based in Colorado, got into problems with the Central City Council not because of the services it was providing but the lack of transparency.  Ultimately, a non-profit corporation, IBTS, won the contract.  It was founded by the National Governors Conference to assist local government with their needs. By comparison, the City of Hammond with a population of 20,000 has 325 city employees and a $30 million budget.  Central with 28,000 people has only four city employees.  Its annual budget is $6.5 million, and the city runs a $1.5 million surplus.  IBTS devotes about 25 staff members to providing services for the people of Central.

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