You're fired, You're hired: A Fayette, GA, newspaper reports that growing, modern Peachtree City, located just southeast of Atlanta, just signed a one-year contract with TruGreen Landcare of Stone Mountain for about $256,206 for this year to do the landscape maintenance, pick up litter and perform "other duties" for the city. The contract can be extended for one-year terms in 2010 and 2011. The contract includes quotes for individual services so if the city needs to adjust the schedule for mowing and landscaping, it can be done, according to the report in \"The Citizen."
The city recently fired 23 workers, subsequently hiring back several, to get a handle on a projected $3.5-million budget shortfall in next year's budget.
A trend? Definitely. Cities are more and more likely to outsource landscape maintenance and related services to contractors, assuming the contractors are efficient enough to provide the service the city desires, turn an acceptable profit and still save the city money. No disrepect to municipal workers, but my gut feeling is that well-run, profit-driven landscape companies have better systems than cities to get these tasks done efficiently.
Another likely factor in outsourcing is that cities facing budget woes see hiring outside contractors as a way to get out from under the burden of paying benefits to their employees, something that many contractors don't provide hourly workers. That said, I can't speak to whether that's the case or not with of TruGreen Landcare of Stone Mountain as I don't know.
The newspaper reported that Peachtree City expects to save more than $900,000 by letting its city workers go and outsourcing the work they had been performing.
Something to chew on: In an unrelated news flash, but something that we've been referring to occasionally on this blog, Maria Shriver, California's first lady, announced plans for an edible garden on the grounds of the state Capitol.
California chef Alice Waters, who teamed with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to plant a vegetable garden outside city hall last summer, will help build the garden in May.
The nation's first lady Michelle Obama joined school children last week to plant a produce and herb garden on the White House grounds.
We'll keep an eye on the phenomenon of edible gardens to see if it has legs or is merely a fad. - Ron Hall