Milpitas Public Works Partnership Belies California Dysfunction

California: The ready and willing standard bearer of political dysfunction. When its lawmakers aren’t busy pretending to balance a $92 billion budget (turns out they relied on gimmicks to close a $15.7 billion budget deficit), they’re getting ban-happy by legislating everything from over-the-counter cold medicine to foie gras. But before you lose hope in the Golden State, turn your eyes to Milpitas in Santa Clara County.

Last week the Milpitas City Council announced their first-ever public works public-private partnership to rightsize the department. The city’s public works department came under fire over the past year due to deteriorating park conditions ranging from broken irrigation systems and dead shrubbery, to graffiti and vandalism marring benches. Rather than accept city staff promises to restore conditions over the course of three years, policymakers turned to the private sector.

The City Council voted to award two related contracts to Colorado-based Terracare Associates for park and street landscaping, and repair services. The Milpitas Post reports:

Under its parks maintenance contact, Terracare will be paid an annual base price of $1,326,155 for the first two years and $1,369,638 for years three through five. The contract for these services is for one year with four one-year options for renewal, city reports state.

Terracare will be charged with maintaining 24 city parks and sports fields with equipment and personnel to provide routine landscape maintenance services, pruning, trash pick-up, weed removal, turf care, plant replacements, irrigation system maintenance and fixture and equipment repair services.

Under its streetscape maintenance and repair contract, Terracare will receive an annual not-to-exceed amount of $125,218 for all aspects of landscape and irrigation system maintenance for the city’s landscaped streetscapes, medians and rights of way.

The council’s approval allows the city manager to grant yearly increases pursuant to the contract without further city council action. Terracare was chosen above three other similar firms and was determined to be the most advantageous to the city, reports state.

This is a small step towards solving the overwhelming political dysfunction at California’s state and local level; but for parkgoers and motorists in Milpitas, partnerships like this make all the difference. For more on local government privatization, see Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2011: Local Government Privatization available online here.