cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
"Your mission, should you decide to accept..."
That lead-in to the old Mission Impossible television show came to mind as I pondered today's Village Buzz topic possibilities.
I take some of our elected representatives to task now and then, and some of you readers do the same in your comments. Maybe it is time for us to "put up or shut up" as the old saying goes (not really but it gets the point across). If we have ideas as to how our governing entities could do things differently, lets put those on the table and see if any grow legs.
For example, we see privatized prisons popping up around the country. That happened because the private sector found a use for capital that took a burden from the shoulders of the taxpayer. I read of the latest Scott Walker budget proposals for Milwaukee County and thought that he has to be among the most creative politicians I've seen in some time (and, I hope he runs for Governor again).
What is there in our small world that could be done differently if we were to 'color outside the lines' for awhile? At the risk of angering entrenched interests, I'll throw out a few thoughts along those lines (remember that there may be some current impediments but that most impediments are man-made and could be altered if we demanded that):
Why not look to the private sector to build a school building that we can lease? The lessor could be obligated to handle all repairs, for example, over the term of the lease to assure that things that break get fixed on a timely basis instead of being delayed until they manifest as something worse. I see many former hospitals that have been turned into apartment buildings, for example. Just because a building is built to house students, doesn't have to mean that it would always be a school building. As population ebbs and flows, this would give the taxpayer some welcomed flexibility. Would this be workable? We won't know unless we ask the questions.
What about a charter school or an Internet school option to take student-count pressure off the buildings now available? Might that also reduce the personnel costs?
Many communities have hired assessor organizations and building inspector organizations to do their specialized work instead of retaining this talent on their own payrolls. Why not go through an extensive review of what we could do along those lines. That might reduce costs. It might eliminate our angst over rising benefit costs that have been negotiated and about which we can do nothing even as we watch the private sector deal with those same issues. Current employees with those skills might welcome the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and build new companies that other communities could employ.
Would it be possible to contract for road repair and shift some of the uncertainties off onto a private sector entity? Private business is accustomed to taking risk. Government tends to have to avoid risk and that adds expense. Road salting and snow plowing, for example, is a real problem given a hard winter and higher salt costs. If a private firm were contracted, it would bear that risk. I see many landscape firms that become snow plowers and salters in the winter. Is that worth exploring?
Would it make sense to lease computer servers for the village's use and have those housed in a private data center that does that as its primary business? The village wouldn't have need for the IT skills that it might today. Leasing of such systems might prove more economical and is an expense for which we could plan.
In most of these examples, the private sector would probably be more efficient, less susceptible to the political winds that blow hot and then cold, more intent on running very tightly controlled operations, etc. Where there is a true risk/reward relationship that is properly negotiated and vetted, I believe that the private sector is simply better at that than is a government body. And, as the "sidewalk" issue shows, I feel certain that the private sector can get things done in shorter time periods in most cases.
"Your mission, should you decide to accept" is to come up with your own ideas that might be capable of altering the way we look at the world of Germantown government and the Germantown school system today. I look forward to your comments...if you are brave enough/foolish enough to offer those. Most of you, at least, have anonymity on your side. I'm just hanging out there with my zipper down.