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Privatizing public sector work deserves scrutiny

Editorial

When it comes to the issue of privatizing services, there’s always a worry that jobs will be lost and the quality of services will decline. While both are valid concerns, it’s important to look at the bigger picture.

In today’s economy, we can’t afford to overspend in our personal budgets. The same goes for governments, school districts, and other taxing jurisdictions. Every means of saving tax dollars must be scrutinized, and difficult, oftentimes unpopular decisions must be made.

Like privatizing services.

The reality is, the private sector is held to a different level of accountability than the public sector — either make the bottom line, or cease to exist.

Private business is not bound by state-mandated wage increases or benefits packages which have become way out of line with those in the private sector.

The result is private businesses operate much more lean, provide better customer service and are forced to be efficient to stay in the black. They do not have a seemingly endless supply of tax dollars to fall back on if they are not.

It is for this reason that governing agencies like Clinton County have taken a hard look at moving away from government control toward private control.

The county Legislature voted last month to sell its home health care service license to HCR Home Care. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s been a prudent move.

Like many arms of government, the county’s home healthcare services program had been hemorrhaging money to the tune of $2 million a year for the past two years. The majority of the legislators agreed it was no longer fiscally responsible to keep providing the services it has for the past 45 years if the county was going to continue to lose money.

We agree.

At the same time, privatizing services is only an advisable move when it is carefully studied.

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