David Stokes

My friend, Geoff Segal with the Reason Foundation, has written an op-ed on the experiences of Sandy Springs, GA, in dealing with its municipal services and budget. In short, Sandy Springs basically contracts just about everything out except police and fire. And in my in-laws' home town of Farragut, TN (yes, that's a town named after a Union admiral in a Confederate state), they even contract out the fire department to a private company

This is important and topical here for many reasons. As I often write about, St. Louis County has an absurd number of municipalities (91) for its population of just over a million people. Right now, my hometown of University City is struggling to deal with a budget deficit. I think that U. City has done a good job so far in dealing with this situation — they are actually cutting programs and eliminating jobs, as opposed to raising taxes (except for a few fees). I hope that they are at least considering contracting out some of their services to St. Louis County. As big is U. City is, they need to contract with the county much less than most other municipalities, but it is still something I hope they are thinking about. 

Sandy Springs, GA, and Farragut, TN, are different from University City in many ways. They are both fairly new cities, to start with. But their examples of contracting with private companies to provide many of the services people just automatically assume are for the government are a great example to cities everywhere — especially St. Louis County.

About the Author

David Stokes
David Stokes was a policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute from 2007 to 2014 and was director of development from 2014 to 2016.