Meet the mayor of the town that outsourced everything
An Atlanta, Ga., suburb might be a model for saving taxpayers costs while providing high-quality services.
Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of government – more than any other state in the nation. And some municipalities have taken steps to eliminate the duplicative services and high costs that go with these multiple, and often unnecessary, layers of government.
Efforts to save taxpayers money in Belleville and Peru are good examples of the kind of consolidation needed throughout the state. But there is an even more innovative model, in Sandy Springs, Ga., that can serve as an example of efficiency for Illinois and the rest of the country.
Sandy Springs, incorporated in 2005, has about 100,000 residents, which is about the size of Springfield, Ill., and more than twice as large as Moline, Ill. But unlike those cities – and cities across Illinois – Sandy Springs does not have any long-term liabilities, and yet is still able to provide services, invest in its infrastructure, and keep taxes flat.
That is because Sandy Springs relies on private contractors for services government workers typically provide.
Besides its police and fire departments, the city only has eight full-time employees. The city’s communications team works for a public affairs company. An engineering firm maintains the city’s parks. Judges are paid a flat, hourly rate.
“We looked at the traditional model and then the private-sector model, and then when we looked at the advantages and disadvantages, we went the private-sector route,” Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said in an interview on Illinois Rising with AM 560’s Dan Proft and the Illinois Opportunity Project’s Pat Hughes.
And Sandy Springs residents couldn’t be happier with the services.
“We do regular surveys with our citizens to measure customer satisfaction, and we get absolutely no complaints about the quality of service,” Paul said.
“We don’t even refer to [residents] as taxpayers, we refer to them as customers. We’re a business providing a service to customers.”