Like many cities across the country, Flint is struggling to maintain city services; hang on to police, firefighters and other city workers; and still maintain a balanced budget with a declining tax base and increasing legacy costs for retired workers.
But what if Flint simply fired all city workers and outsourced their jobs? Maywood, Calif., located southeast of Los Angeles, did it.
David Streitfeld of The New York Times reports:
While many communities are fearfully contemplating extensive cuts, Maywood says it is the first city in the nation in the current downturn to take an ax to everyone.
The school crossing guards were let go. Parking enforcement was contracted out, City Hall workers dismissed, street maintenance workers made redundant. The public safety duties of the Police Department were handed over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
At first, people in this poor, long-troubled and heavily Hispanic city southeast of Los Angeles braced for anarchy.
Senior citizens were afraid they would be assaulted as they walked down the street. Parents worried the parks would be shut and their children would have nowhere to safely play. Landlords said their tenants had begun suggesting that without city-run services they would no longer feel obliged to pay rent.
The apocalypse never arrived. In fact, it seems this city was so bad at being a city that outsourcing — so far, at least — is being viewed as an act of municipal genius.