Many cities consider contracting out public services. Some do. Not everyone city or city official produces a detailed account of how, why, and what result.

But that’s what we have coming out of San Carlos, courtesy of Vice Mayor Andy Klien.

During the last year, the city of San Carlos has contracted out three services. And as a result, they have managed to avoid further cuts in the city’s budget, while delivering equal or improved services for the residents.

He shares some of his experience and impressions of contracting services in California, and his candor makes this article a good read.

From the San Mateo Daily Journal:

Ten months ago, I wrote a guest perspective entitled “San Carlos at a crossroads.” I outlined the history of our financial situation and what options were available to us moving forward. As a city, we were given two options; more service cuts and a slow degradation of our city, or contracting three city services and maintaining our way of life. Contracting of essential city services was not a new idea in California, but it was a different approach here in San Mateo County.

Given the choice between more cuts and exploring contracting out our services, the majority of the City Council voted for the latter. In my initial guest perspective, I wrote these three requirements that I would need fulfilled to feel comfortable contracting out services. “First, the level of service must be equal to or greater than our current level of service at a lower cost. Second, we must have an iron-clad, transparent agreement that does not come back to haunt us as the years go by. Lastly, whichever agency or company we retain must be willing to engage with our citizens and be willing to be flexible enough to meet our ever-changing needs.”

At the time, these requirements were used as an argument against contracting and believed to be unattainable. Fortunately, through the public bidding process the City Council discovered that these requirements were not only attainable but were achieved. The City Council began by targeting three major city services for contract: parks maintenance, police and fire.

Read the full article here.