Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Privatizing Some City Jobs Being Considered; Administration Is Looking at Ideas for Next Budget

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Privatizing Some City Jobs Being Considered; Administration Is Looking at Ideas for Next Budget

Article excerpt

Byline: Timothy J. Gibbons

Buried deep in the procurement section of Jacksonville's website are seeds that may eventually sprout into phase two of Mayor Alvin Brown's city reorganization plan.

Those seeds: A request for proposals from companies that would take over fire safety inspections and requests for information for companies interested in taking over some fleet and information technology jobs.

Those ideas are some of the almost 50 the administration is looking at as it prepares for next year's budget, expected to drop from this year's. The first part of the mayor's reorganization plan, which passed the City Council this month, was basically revenue-neutral, but Brown has said he's now looking to cut expenses by 10 percent to 15 percent.

Among the first possibilities being looked at to accomplish those cuts are privatizing fire inspections and fleet and fuel management services and modifying how the IT department recovers from disasters and handles city email.

Other ideas being considered by the administration are items as small as issuing new policies clarifying when computers should be shut off and as large as switching city vehicles to compressed natural gas.

Other ideas would trim city staff, change the way procurement is done and better measure how city employees do their jobs.

"This reform of city government will enable us to focus on taking Jacksonville to the next level," Brown said.

The changes being considered came mainly from reports generated by two consulting groups:

- Alvarez & Marsal, an international firm hired by the Jacksonville Civic Council for $25,000 to $50,000.

- Government Services Partnership Institute, a champion of privatization co-founded by former JEA chief executive Walt Bussells, which is volunteering its services.

Privatization is one of the key concepts on the list of ideas, with parking meter management, the city's fire museum, ambulance service and other tasks being considered as candidates for outsourcing.

Some of those ideas have already gotten pushback.

Having a company do inspections rather than the eight to 10 firefighters who do it now won't save time or money, said Randy Wyse, head of the local firefighters union. …

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