Friday, January 08, 2010

Milton cuts its conservative ideology tax.

Is there nothing sacred in the Great Recession?

When Milton became a city three years ago, its founders embraced privatization, paying a company to collect garbage, draw up zoning maps and handle the day-to-day duties of a municipal government.

But the relationship soured when the city needed to cut the budget. Last week, Milton ended its contract with CH2M Hill, a Colorado-based firm, and went to a mostly traditional form of government.

City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said the change should translate into at least $1 million in yearly savings — a significant sum for a city with a $22.9 million budget.

Twenty of 34 CH2M Hill employees assigned to Milton decided to stay, most holding the same jobs. The city rounded their annual CH2M Hill salaries up to the nearest thousand.

I was skeptical of whether this would work, and it seems that my skepticism was warranted. So, it seems that privatization doesn't work for small governments like Milton; it doesn't work for large governments like Atlanta; so why privatize? As far as I can see, it's ideology: privatization is a conservative value, and conservatives were willing to allocate $1 million of a $20 million budget - 5% - to adhere to that value.