Part 2: Options for local government service delivery

Alternative tools and service delivery options.

As discussed, in part one of the article, we noted that the purpose of local government is to provide the greatest amount of service for the most people at the lowest cost. Here then, let us continue the discussion of service delivery options.

Franchises are another tool and permit profit-making companies to obtain a local market for the sale of their services. Typically, franchise agreements may include the opportunity for a specific business to use local rights of way or public property. As the local units allows the company access to its citizens, the local government will receive a fee for this franchise agreement. Franchises are different from purchasing service or a grant in the sense that franchises generate revenue for the local unit without the need to increase expenses. In many cases, the use of franchises is for a service that an end user will provide a direct payment.

 Another tool for providing services will involve the local unit creating a partnership with other units of government, non-profit organizations or even for-profit businesses. In implementing such agreements, the local unit and outside entity must coordinate the delivery of the service or in some cases may provide the service jointly. Partner for service programs commonly include mutual aid agreements between units of government for police and/or fire services. As part of the mutual aid, these departments will generally rotate vehicles to guarantee the public is served in case of an emergency. As an example, should a local unit have all of its fire equipment respond to a major fire, a fire truck from one of the mutual aid units would be dispatched to fill the empty fire station. In this way, the citizens of the local unit had fire protection with a fire truck on ready alert in the event of an emergency while all of their own trucks were away providing fire service to other citizens.

Depending upon the nature of the task and its specific service delivery package, a careful review of the alternatives must be achieve and careful consideration of each should be examined in the decision making process. While these considerations may vary, several key components may include a review to determine how many of the entities are available to provide the service and how much control will the local unit have in supervision of the service delivery to the funding sources and public access to the service. In short, a local government must be certain of the availably, reliability and quality of the service if it is to utilize an alternate method rather than providing the service in-house. Once a service is outsourced, changes within the unit of government’s planning, funding and maintenance may make future changes to return the service in-house very problematic and expensive. Thus, local units must conduct a very careful review of all relevant factors before outsourcing a public service.

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