March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 19

routine low-skilled activities, such as
mowing. The advantages are illustrated in the chart on page 18. This
decision poses a moral dilemma for
those of us who are elected officials.
Is it morally appropriate for me to
vote in favor of outsourcing because
it is much cheaper, when I know
that the business that wins the contract will be paying much less than
a living wage? Elected officials will
reach different conclusions.

Adaptability to Seasonality
and Scale of Service
In some situations, a department's labor force is not well-matched with the
seasonality of many programs. For
example, an audit of my city's aquatic program noted, " Even though 83
percent of the aquatic revenue is collected in June, July and August, and
another 12 percent in April and May,
almost 50 percent of aquatic personnel cost is incurred during months
when the city pools are closed. Discontinuing the staffing of the pools
during the off-season would generate
around $250,000 in cost savings. "
Private partners are better
equipped to deliver services that
require a large number of part-time
employees for short time periods.
Bureaucratic procedures for hiring
and paying part-time staff are frequently lengthy, cumbersome and
onerous, whereas it is generally easy
for businesses to do this.
Expenditures on specialized equipment is difficult for an agency to justify if use of the equipment is seasonal,
so it sits idle for much of the year. A
business serving multiple organizations is likely to have economies of
scale that enable it to purchase stateof-the-art and specialized equipment
at a lower price than a department
with only a single facility.
	

For example, each year, American Golf Corporation purchases
more than 3,000 golf carts for the
250 courses it operates. The volume enables the company to negotiate a substantially lower purchase
price per cart than any single department could.
In addition, private partners can often take advantage of federal business
tax laws that permit rapid depreciation of new equipment and offer investment tax credits for its purchase.

Reduced Liability Risks
Governments have deep pockets.
This makes them an attractive target
for contingency liability suits arising
from allegations of reckless acts (negligence) that result in unintentional
harm to a third party. Because liabil-

ity insurance premiums are largely
based on the estimated level of risk,
departments seek to transfer their liability exposure to private partners.
Typically, agreements include
clauses stating the agency will be
" held harmless " in the event of a
negligence claim. Since this does
not always provide ironclad protection, an indemnity clause usually is
added stipulating that if the hold
harmless clause is not completely
adequate, the partner (or its insurer) would pay for any damages the
agency owed.
John L. Crompton, Ph.D., is a University Distinguished
Professor, Regents Professor and Presidential Professor for
Teaching Excellence in the Department of Recreation, Park
and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University and an
elected Councilmember for the City of College Station
(jcrompton@tamu.edu).

PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N .O R G | M A R C H 2 02 1 |

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March 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March 2021 - Parks & Recreation

March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
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March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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March 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
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