Community Leader’s View: We’re making progress on managed competition

By Jerry Sanders

Mayor, City of San Diego

Recently, the San Diego City Council showed they’re serious about addressing San Diego’s long-term budget health when they voted to support putting Miramar Landfill operations out to bid through the city’s managed competition program.

I applaud the City Council — specifically Councilmembers Sherri Lightner, Kevin Faulconer, Tony Young, Carl DeMaio and Lorie Zapf – for their common-sense vote to allow private companies to compete against city employees for work at the Miramar Landfill. This incentivizes city employees to find efficiencies wherever possible in order to be competitive against the private sector. In the end, the taxpayers win.

I especially commend Councilmember Sherri Lightner, who once again demonstrated her independence and policy knowledge when she voted to approve the motion with key amendments that ensure continued stringent environmental standards.

The bidding process we’re about to embark on could cut landfill operation costs by millions of dollars. For proof of this concept, we can look at the results of the first managed competition, which was for publishing and reprographic services to city departments. Earlier this year, city employees’ won the bid by whittling about $1 million a year off the cost of the service. These are funds that now can be used to put more police on the streets, staff fire engines, and improve service at parks and libraries.

Managed competition builds on the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of savings on city services implemented during my administration, including streamlining and consolidating city departments; reducing budgeted vacant positions by more than 1,700 and redirecting those funds to other services; reforming retiree healthcare by making employees contribute toward the benefit; and other reform and efficiency measures.

By the time I leave office in December 2012, we’ll have eliminated the city’s long-standing structural budget deficit, allowing the next mayor to start with a clean slate.

With landfill operations now going out to bid, we’re lining up the competitive bids for fleet services, street sweeping, street/sidewalk maintenance and public utilities customer service – with more to come. We expect to be reporting many more financial success stories soon.