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Feiner To Board of Legislators:Time to Think Out of the Box
Starting Monday, members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators plan to roll up their sleeves and begin work on County Executive Rob Astorino's proposed 2011 budget. The $1.78 billion spending plan makes millions of dollars in cuts in an effort to stave off a 166 million dollar deficit, reduces taxes by 1% and calls for 226 layoffs.
As the Board gears up to begin work on the budget, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner is out with a suggestion for the board, asking them "Why not put government services up to bid and allow both the public and private sector unions to compete for such services?"
Feiner says in difficult economic times where thousands of people are losing their jobs, it's time for the Board to "think out of the box." He claims such an approach will both save taxpayer dollars as well as jobs.
His idea isn't original. It was pioneered in the 1990's by former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith who privatized many of his city's services such as running a wastewater treatment plant and vehicle maintenance by putting such services out to bid. During his tenure he is credited with identifiying more than $400 million in savings and with transforming neglected neighborhoods while reducing the tax rate.
Feiner says "Competition among the private and public sectors encourages creativity."
According to Feiner, the Greenburgh Town Board is currently reviewing a proposal that would change the way sanitation services are offered to residents and would increase transparency. Under the proposed plan, the town would send residents a bill for sanitation services rather than having them pay for it through town taxes. Residents and businesses would have the option of comparing the costs of Greenburgh's services with the private sector. If residents are happy with the service, they can choose to "hire" the town to pick up their garbage. If they are dissatisfied, with the price and level of service, they would be given the option of contracting with the private sector.
Said Feiner, "I think what people want is smart government and if we could re-organize government and run government more efficiently, get rid of duplication and inefficiencies, and save taxpayer dollars, and not really hurt a lot of people, I think that should be the goal."
The Greenburgh Supervisor says he plans to offer his suggestions at a public hearing on the County budget in Yonkers on Wednesday.
Around the Country
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Around the Planet
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