Atherton set to hire firm to outsource services

Council will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17

The town of Atherton is poised to hire Interwest Consulting Group to provide services now performed by its building department staff, a move Interim City Manager John Danielson says will save the town more than $350,000 in the current fiscal year.

The Atherton City Council will be asked to approve a contract with Interwest at the council's meeting on Wednesday (Aug. 17). The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

The town currently employs one of the firm's partners, Michael Kashiwagi, as its interim public works director.

Current building department staff members, along with a finance department assistant and a public works supervisor, are being laid off, effective Aug. 19. Three other public works employees will be laid off Sept. 16.

Under a plan designed by the interim town manager, building and public works services are being outsourced. The Teamsters union representing the employees are fighting the layoffs and outsourcing of services.

The contract before the council this week would set payment to Interwest for building services at an amount not to exceed 58 percent of building revenues collected through fees.

In a staff report, Danielson said that the town will "incur additional cost for Interwest to take over building projects that are incomplete. (That cost) will either be paid out of current building revenues or from the building department operating reserve."

The building department reserve was estimated to have about $960,000 in fiscal year 2010-11, according to Finance Director Louise Ho.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, 94 Ashfield Road in the Town Center.

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Like this comment
Posted by Ryan
a resident of University South
on Aug 17, 2011 at 9:33 am

Great move, Atherton.

$350K annual savings to the taxpayers, with zero net change in unemployment (a private sector job was created for each public sector one lost).

Public Union workers are overpaid, hugely so when pension benefits are factored in. Furthermore, they are not incentivized to work hard due to union rules and job-security. Tapping into the private sector is a huge win for Atherton, as well as the children of current residents who will be less on the hook for the pensions being promised public employees today.

Palo Alto should look to do the same with the SEIU bureaucrats in city hall. We should also outsource the fire department, or greatly reduce their pay and benefits to market rate.

There's no room for bloat in this economy (or ever, for that matter). It's time to run the city more like a well run business whose customers are the taxpaying citizens.

Like this comment
Posted by Vanquish
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 17, 2011 at 10:29 am

So, let me get this straight.... There's nothing to maintain in Atherton, except one park, which seems to be fine (just got new grass), Police pull all my friends over who don't drive a BMW or Mercedes, so why do we need to save 350k? How about you cut down the tree in front of my driveway, that is outside my property line, it's getting my cars dirty often :) Or, fix the intersection of Atherton and Alameda, it's a little bumpy.

Like this comment
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

I have to agree with Ryan. Palo Alto should follow Atherton's example. The current system of increasing government size and cost is unsustainable. I have worked in the government sector and the private sector. There is no comparison between the efficiency levels. Not that government employees are de facto less capable, but the process (especially when unions are involved) results in less productivity and responsibility. The saying in government employment (whenever some one wanted to work hard was) "why work hard, it all pays the same".

Good move Atherton!

Like this comment
Posted by cid
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I'm sure the changes had nothing to do with past "scandals" or lawsuits.....
Web Link
(I watche dthe video which has since been removed from YouTube and the town employees were certainly exhibiting a "Circle the Wagons -Cover YEr A$$" Mentality towards a citizen's Public Records request.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Anyone spot a conflict of interest here?
"The town currently employs one of the firm's partners, Michael Kashiwagi, as its interim public works director."

I would advise the residents of and former employees of Atherton to document exactly what TOTAL costs for city services are now, and a good record of the status and quality of things now - so that this can be compared to the actual TOTAL cost to the city and the quality and stauts of things 2 years after the privatizing "job-trade" goes into effect. Why? Because actual facts increasing indicate that places and companies that have gone this route actually end up PAYING MORE (once all the new hidden and initially unquantified fees and extras kick in are added to the overt budget amount) and getting less.
Which, I guess is to be expected if you go from qualified and experienced middle class tradesmen and women to minimum wage peons.

Like this comment
Posted by Ryan
a resident of University South
on Aug 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm

The newly hired private sector workers aren't "minimum wage peons" as the poster above states. They are private sector professionals (meaning they are accountable for their productivity unlike their public counterparts) and are compensated at the market rate, which is exactly what taxpayers should be paying.

I do agree with the above post however, that taxpayers should pay close attention to the effects of this move going forward. They will be very pleased with the considerable savings (no more pension bills passed to our children) and increased cost effectiveness.

This should only be the start.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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