Attention Ricochet Members,
We are all moving to Weston, Florida. Why, you ask? Because of this, from Governing:
Weston, Fla., an affluent suburb 25 miles northwest of Miami, has one of the most unusual charters of any city: it specifically discourages the city from hiring employees.
... Since its inception, the city has used contractors to fulfill virtually every city function. Today, the city of 65,000 has a budget of $121 million -- and just nine of its own employees. "I see no reason why we'd ever have to increase the number of employees," says Mayor Eric Hersh, who’s led the city for over 10 years.
All total, the city has about 35 contracts for services such as parks maintenance, engineering, code enforcement, building permits, public works and custodial service. Fire and police service has been contracted out to Broward County.
The city has about 285 full-time equivalent employees who are "dedicated staff" provided by contractors. They work in city facilities and are treated like city employees, but on paper, they are actually employees of private companies that get paid by the city.
The result is a situation that many city managers and mayors may envy. City leaders don't have to deal with labor disputes or union negotiations; they aren't struck with ballooning pension obligations; and they aren't dealing with painful and politically unpopular layoffs.
Many of the contracts are for a particular level of service, as opposed to a particular number of employees. When the amount of work facing the building department slowed during the recession, for example, the city didn’t have to continue to pay idle workers. "That’s the vendor’s issue of what he does with the staff," says Daniel Stermer, who served as Weston city commissioner from 2002 to 2010 . "We’re not paying for it unless somebody’s using it."
Anytime that I get into a dispute with a liberal who believes that my conservative/libertarian fusionist worldview would deprive poor children of educations or leave old ladies out on the street to die (that one's for your French brother-in-law, James), I always tell them the same thing: just because government decides to finance a good doesn't mean that government should build the bureaucracy to provide that good. Little did I know that all this time there was a city living out that mantra.