DETROIT — Mayor
Dave Bing is discussing contracting out two city finance department functions,
according to the Detroit Free Press. There are about 100 city workers currently
providing tax collection and payroll services, according to the Free Press. The
city uses an antiquated system that requires manual processing.
This is not the
only function the mayor is looking to contract out. Bing stated on the PBS
"Tavis Smiley" program that the city's Public Lighting Department is an example
of a service that is not a core government service and may be considered for
"I can't say that
everything has to be privatized, but there are some things that, in this city,
we ought not be doing as part of government," he stated.
Bing expressed concern for current employees, possibly
suggesting that they may find new jobs in a contracting company, but he
emphasized, "When we find out that we're not competitive, it ought to go out."
The city's Public
Lighting Department generates electricity for the city's streetlights, utility
poles and traffic lights, as well as 890 other buildings in Detroit, according
to the Detroit Free Press. The city's power station is also in need of major
The mayor is
following through on these ideas. In an action plan posted on the city's Web
site, the mayor expects to outsource the management of the city airport and
parts of its financial operations. He also plans on closing the city's
Mistersky Power Plant.
The Mackinac Center
recommended privatizing the department in 2001, pointing out that its costs
were 160 percent higher than private-sector operators and that a sale of
its assets at that time may have resulted in a payment of $301 million to
References: "Bing: Privatizing can save city cash,"
Detroit Free Press, Aug. 14, 2009
"Bing wants to privatize lighting," Detroit Free Press,
June 10, 2009
Tavis Smiley show, www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/
"Bing Administration Crisis Turnaround Action Items,"
City of Detroit web site, accessed Oct. 13, 2009.
"Time to Privatize Detroit's Public Lighting
Department," Michigan Privatization Report, Winter 2001