Local governments suffer from a big problem: bigness. Too often they expand their scope of services, and, in so doing, progressively fail to cover even the old, core set of services. You know, like fire and police and roads and such.
The solution is obvious. Mimic Sandy Springs.
This suburban community north of Atlanta, Georgia, had been ill-served by Fulton County. So a few years ago the area incorporated. And, to fend off all the problems associated with the “do-it-all-ourselves” mentality, the city didn’t hire on a huge staff of civil servants. Instead, it contracted out the bulk of those services in chunks.
Now, the roads get paved and the streets are cleaned and the waste is removed better as well as cheaper than ever. The town’s mayor, economist Eva Galambos, noted that in five years the town saw 84 miles of roadway newly paved, up from the five miles they were lucky enough to squeeze from Fulton County’s operation during the decade before incorporation.
Reason Foundation, a think tank known for its privatization emphasis, has been on the story from the beginning. A 2005 appraisal predicted that the town would become a “model city.” That prophecy seems to have been on the money, and a Reason TV video emphasizes this with the shocking fact that the town “has no long-term liabilities.”
As the rest of the nation’s cities, counties and states lurch into insolvency, Sandy Springs shows a way out.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.