When Centennial, Colorado incorporated on February 7, 2001 it was the largest incorporation of its kind in U.S. history. Centennial is located in the southern part of the Denver metropolitan area, encompassing nearly 30 miles with 103,000 residents in 36,200 households.
Centennial's incorporation has been massively successful. Over nine years later the city has effectively provided high-quality service delivery at a low-cost with an in-house public staff of only 53 employees. How do they do this? The city relies on public-private partnerships (PPPs) to provide all public works services and intergovernmental agreements to provide public safety enforcement.
To learn more about Centennial, listen to this recent interview between American City & County managing editor Lindsay Isaacs and Randy Pye, one of Centennial's five founders and its first mayor. Also, be sure to check out the magazine's recent article on Centennial here, which details the city's startup and unique approach. Commenting on the city's large-scale PPP for public works services, Centennial's public works director notes:
"When we looked at the entire spectrum of in-source versus contract the entire thing out, the choice was very clear that the best service delivery model was an outsourced private-sector model."
Over 100 contract cities in states like California, Georgia and Florida have taken similar approaches, and there have been several instances of governments moving toward this approach in recent years. Reason Foundation has written about contract cities here, here and here; and will be offering continued coverage of contract cities in its upcoming Annual Privatization Report 2010.
Harris Kenny is a research assistant at Reason Foundation