Will county outsource more services? | TheUnion.com

Will county outsource more services?

First, it was the county libraries, then the animal shelter.

Now, as Nevada County officials look for more ways to provide public services for less money, they are considering outsourcing management of the McCourtney Road Transfer Station and a new Conference and Visitors Bureau.

“We’re going to take a look to see if this is a premium for taxpayers,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Nate Beason said Friday. “We think we can save money, but we’re not sure.”

That depends on what proposals come in for the garbage station, Beason added. The county already contracts with Waste Management Inc. for the hauling of garbage to and from the transfer station; it makes sense to look at outsourcing the management as well, he added.

Many California transfer stations already are operated under private-public partnerships.

“The taxpayers deserve the best return they can get on the tax dollar, whether it’s done by government, privately or by a nonprofit,” Beason said.

If the county turns more services over to private firms or nonprofits, “we won’t give up control and policy decisions,” Beason said.

“The way the economy is,” he added, “I think people will have to lower their expectations of government, though.”

The supervisors are slated to call for proposals to operate the garbage transfer station and the new visitor bureau at Tuesday’s meeting. They meet at 9 a.m. at the Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City.

The concept of outsourcing the new Conference and Visitors Bureau has been in the works for several months. The county also recently entered into negotiations with Sammie’s Friends to operate the animal shelter.

While residents seem to have embraced the idea of a respected, local animal rescue nonprofit operating the shelter, many voiced worried opposition to the idea of a private, out-of-state company running the county’s six financially strapped libraries.

Board members still could accept a private proposal to run the system, but two committees already have recommended against that, urging instead that the libraries remain under county jurisdiction – but with significant budget reductions.

Supervisors are expected to adopt a library solution at their Feb. 23 meeting.

Library management has been a notable exception in the trend toward the privatization of management of public services, Beason said.

“People seized on that one,” making it clear they did not want outside firms running their public libraries, Beason said.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4237.

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