Weston Florida is an affluent suburb 25 miles northwest of Miami. When Weston was incorporated in 1996, its residents approved a charter that states the city must use contractors as opposed to city employees to perform traditional government services, unless four out of five councilmembers vote to make an exception.

As a Governing article reports “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. 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.”

Weston’s nine employees include the city manager and two assistants city managers; the directors of parks and recreation, public works and landscaping; the city clerk; the city treasurer; and a communications director.  

The benefit to contracting out all city services according to the Governing article is that “…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”.

Not having to spend considerable time on labor issues City Manager John Flint says allows him to “… spend more time with residents. I can spend more time with the city commission and my senior executives crafting the direction of the city … rather than having to deal with human resource issues.”

Mayor Eric Hersh, who’s led the city for over 10 years said that when the move to incorporate the city started “We were not looking to create a political dynasty, we were looking to create an efficient city.”

Meanwhile in cities like Buffalo (the third poorest city in the nation), politicians spend their time soliciting campaign cash, filling jobs with patronage hires and building political dynastys that they hope will propel them to higher office, where the power and perks are even better.

www.reinventinggov.org