Tag Archives: New Jersey

The pros and cons of privatizing the Montclair Animal Shelter

Source: Nicholas Katzban and Lisa Marie Segarra, North Jersey, October 6, 2016

Following a disastrous fire this past April, the Montclair Township Animal Shelter building on North Willow Street was deemed unfit for entry, and its future seemed vague. Though shelter operations have long since returned to the building with limited access to certain floors, contractors have worked tirelessly to return the shelter to its original state. However, at a recent council meeting, acting Township Manager Timothy Stafford said that he is looking into whether or not the best option for the municipality would be to privatize the shelter, handing its operations over to a third party. … At present, there are three feasible scenarios: One in which the township hires a new director and continues to manage the shelter through its Department of Health and Human Services, one in which the township outsources shelter management to a third party, but leases the refurbished building to that group so that the shelter stays in town, and one in which both operations and management are outsourced to another party and location. … Katz said she’s concerned that the township has not reached out to the committee for input, and worries that decisions regarding animal welfare are being made purely on a financial basis. She acknowledged that some of her concerns stem from previous attempts to privatize the shelter by former Township Manager Marc DaShield, which she described as a “secretive process.” …

Trenton schools shot down for trying to privatize aides at another district

Source: David Foster, The Trentonian, October 4, 2016

It’s bad enough the capital city school district privatized its own aides, resulting in hundreds of layoffs the past two years and disorganization within the special education department. But when the district tried to send contracted aides to another district, the state Department of Education put its foot down. According to a Sept. 20 DOE commissioner decision, Trenton lost an appeal to provide contracted aides to the Mercer County Special Services School District (MCSSSD) for special education students the capital city district places at MCSSSD. Trenton sought to implement the plan for the 2015-16 school year to reduce operating costs, but MCSSSD, which specializes in education for children with special needs, refused to allow it, leading to the state decision. … MCSSSD’s aides are district employees unlike Trenton, which outsources its aides. Whitfield has filed numerous special education complaints against Trenton within the past year. The advocate said the district cannot fill the number of paraprofessionals required for students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEP) this year and is currently out of compliance. … This year’s budget was criticized for being discriminatory toward children with special needs with many cuts targeting paraprofessionals and specialists. For the second year in a row, Trenton public schools slashed hundreds of jobs, privatized paraprofessionals and closed a school. Most recently, the Trenton chapter of the NAACP called out civil rights violations for the district’s students with special needs. …

Related:

Union fears privatization in Trenton schools unlikely to stop
Source: Matt Fair, The Times of Trenton, November 28, 2011

First they came for the district’s cafeteria workers, then for its security staff and bus drivers. Slowly, over the last three years, Trenton Public Schools has moved toward privatizing parts of its staff to cope with rising employee costs and reductions in state aid….The district came close to outsourcing its custodial staff over the summer, and a private company was brought in several months ago to assume some of the responsibilities of in-house paraprofessionals who assist teachers who work with special education students and pupils with medical conditions….Mission One Educational Staffing Services was awarded a contract in September to provide paraprofessionals….Meanwhile, Mission One’s sister company, Source 4 Teachers, last month was awarded a contract to provide substitute teachers for the district.

New charter school may cost teacher aide jobs

Source: Ron Leir, The Observer, August 17, 2016

The first-ever charter school in Kearny has yet to open but already it has impacted the town’s public school system. Because the district only recently learned how many Kearny students will be attending the Hudson Arts and Science Charter School — after the Board of Education had adopted its 2016-2017 budget — district officials are scrambling to adjust. Since it has to come up with nearly $3 million to pay the cost of educating those students, the district is scrambling to find ways of offsetting that expense by trimming other areas in the budget. Among the resulting casualties, it turns out, will be teacher aides. … Records in the district’s central office indicate that of the 220 aides that were on the KBOE payroll, 35 are to be pared, leaving a total of 185, according to district sources. Exactly how much the district will save by not reappointing those 35 people could not be readily learned by press time. The aides work three hours a day at an hourly rate based on a step schedule tied to longevity. They are not represented by the Kearny Education Association. …

OP-ED: PRIVATIZING PUBLIC SCHOOL CUSTODIANS AND FACILITY MANAGEMENT

Source: Jerell Blakeley, NJ Spotlight, August 15, 2016

Unfortunately, Bush is not alone. He and his hardworking colleagues in Camden and other cities are losing their jobs as more and more districts choose to privatize school custodial staff. School districts in New Jersey as diverse as Clifton, Woodstown, Lacey, and Paterson are privatizing school custodial-staff members at alarming rates. As members of the Healthy Schools Now coalition, we are concerned about the impact of school privatization on school facility quality, as well as the social costs of this troubling trend. … According to noted education scholar Walter Farrell, privatization leads to lower quality services, accountability problems, and hidden costs; most importantly, the financial benefits remain unproven. According to the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, custodial privatization processes suffer from loopholes in contracts, misleading cost-benefit analyses, indirect costs, and unrealistic introductory rates. Due to the inexperience of the privatized school custodial staff and its lack of appropriate staffing, President Clarice Berry of the Chicago Principals Association, testified before a Chicago City Council committee that she was “terrified” of what would happen when the snow began. According to the Chicago Tribune, parents claim that the unsanitary bathroom conditions, overflowing garbage cans and soiled napping cots are the result of inadequate custodial care following the Chicago Board of Education’s decision to award multimillion-dollar custodial management contracts to two firms, Aramark and SodexoMAGIC. … Healthy Schools Now is also concerned with the disproportionate impact of cuts on custodians of color. As noted in a recent article in The New York Times, roughly one in five black adults are employed in the public sector and are about 30 percent more likely to have a public-sector job than non-Hispanic whites, and twice as likely as Hispanics. …

Lessons Learned from Public and Private Contract Managers for Effective Local Government Contracting Out: The Case of New Jersey

Source: Soojin Kim, International Journal of Public Administration, Latest Articles, Published online: July 29, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
To date, very few studies have explored practical strategies for exercising effective financial management of local government contracts through two main stakeholders’ perspectives of the contracting system at the same time. Employing a series of semi-structured interviews with public officials and private contractors in New Jersey, this study attempts to fill this gap in the scholarship. The finding of this study suggests that government agencies should pay greater attention to competitive bids without favoritism, contract specificity, a statewide performance database, sufficient staffing with well-trained personnel, strong leadership, team-based structures, two-way communication, and evaluation based on both qualitative and quantitative values.

Morris freeholders defend privatizing nursing home as Democrats oppose it

Source: Ben Horowitz, NJ.com, August 2, 2016

The plan to privatize Morris County’s Morris View Healthcare Center, a 283-bed nursing home, was carefully studied before the freeholders decided to issue a request for proposals, according to a county spokesman. … The privatization plan, approved by the all-Republican board in a 5-2 vote, has emerged as an election issue, with two Democratic freeholder candidates opposing it and saying the board needs to get more public input before moving forward. Ragonese took issue with an article published on Nj.com on Friday which reported that a similar leasing arrangement at the 1,000-bed Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus has proven problematic. … The privatization arrangement for Morris View was recommended in a study completed for the freeholders by Perselay Associates, a consulting company, which cited rising costs as the main reason. Perselay projected that the tax-supported subsidy for Morris View will increase from the $6.8 million incurred in 2015 to $15.5 million by 2020. Perselay cited dropping reimbursement rates from Medicaid and other sources along with rising costs to pay employees, including higher payments for their health care benefits. … Two Democratic candidates for freeholder, Rozella Clyde and Mitchell Horn, both oppose what the freeholders are doing. Clyde is urging the freeholders to delay circulating the request for proposals for six months, so that there may be more public input. She pointed out that the resolution for the request for proposals was not listed on the freeholders’ agenda last week but was added “at the last minute.” …

SOCIAL IMPACT BONDS

Source: Jessica Hathaway, NCSL, July 12, 2016
Overview

Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), a type of pay-for-success funding agreement, are a private financing mechanism used to fund social programs. SIBs are gaining interest from policymakers at all levels of government as a way to mitigate the simultaneous demands of tight budgets and rising social service costs. To date, state level SIB activity has centered on legislative efforts to authorize the process, create study committees, begin pilot projects, engage in feasibility studies and learn which types of programs this financing tool can be effectively used for. …

Use of Social Impact Bonds at the State Level

At least 24 states and the District of Columbia have considered, are considering or are implementing SIB related projects. Of these, 11 states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah —and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation. Legislative introductions and enactments range from establishing study committees to creating funds and supporting pilot projects. Enacted legislative actions are listed below. …

See list of enacted Social Impact Bond bills.

Atlantic City council to consider seeking bids to outsource services

Source: Christian Hetrick, Press of Atlantic City, July 13, 2016

City Council on Wednesday will consider seeking bids to outsource some municipal services. Council will vote on requesting proposals for the operation of the Construction Division, payroll services and emergency dispatch services. Entering shared services agreements or giving contracts to lowest bidders to was mentioned in a June meeting on the city’s fiscal recovery plan. … City Council on Wednesday will consider seeking bids to outsource some municipal services. Council will vote on requesting proposals for the operation of the Construction Division, payroll services and emergency dispatch services. Entering shared services agreements or giving contracts to lowest bidders to was mentioned in a June meeting on the city’s fiscal recovery plan.  The city’s 2015 budget doesn’t specify the costs of the Construction Division, which is within the Licensing & Inspections Department, or payroll and dispatch services. … The council recently approved seeking bids for trash and recycling collection. Levinson said the county is reviewing the city’s Meals on Wheels transportation service costs to see if the county can do to for cheaper. The council will also vote on authorizing the city to sell developer Bart Blatstein Garden Pier for $1.5 million and awarding a contract to a company to sell ads on the exterior of some city vehicles. …

Transform the Poverty Industry: Stop States Pocketing Aid via Contractors

Source: Daniel Hatcher, Non-Profit Quarterly, June 29, 2016

To shore up its budget, New Jersey is taking federal government assistance away from school children from poor families. The state has hired a private contractor called the Public Consulting Group to access more school-based federal Medicaid funds. This money is intended to help schools serve special education needs more effectively, but New Jersey has diverted over 80 percent of the funds to its general coffers for other uses—effectively taking tens of millions of dollars from school children every year. …

… In Maryland, the state foster care agency has hired a company called Maximus, Inc. to find children whose parents are deceased and to increase the number of children who are determined to be disabled. This is not to provide them with more help, but to enable the state to take their disability and survivor benefits. In a prior contract to lay the groundwork for this effort, Maximus described foster children as a “revenue generating mechanism.” …

… It’s clear that a fundamental realignment of purpose is required. The poverty industry combines the vast powers of government with the profit-seeking appetites of private enterprise. This collaboration can do some good if partnerships are properly constructed and regulated closely, but only if public entities lead the way. State governors and directors of human service agencies control all contracts with private companies, so rather than using them to take resources away from foster children they could encourage contractors to help children obtain their disability and survivor benefits to conserve the children’s funds in planning for their future transition out of foster care. To be clear, I’m not arguing that government aid programs should be cut. On the contrary, current levels of public assistance are significantly insufficient to meet current needs. If states are misusing resources, then the appropriate response is not to cut the funding but to stop the misuse. …

No privatization of Salem County 911 or jail medical staff to balance budget

Source: Bill Gallo, Jr, NJ.com, June 15, 2016

Salem County’s 911 dispatch center and its jail medical staff will not be privatized as a way to balance the 2016 budget.  Freeholders voted 5 to 2 Wednesday afternoon to adopt a $81.3 million spending plan. To prevent outsourcing, the county is raising taxes by a penny more than originally planned, taking more from the surplus fund and adjusting other accounts. The budget also reinstates the 2-cent open space tax that was originally eliminated this year as a way to ease the overall burden on taxpayers. That money is earmarked mostly for farmland preservation, something the county leads the state in. … The adopted budget will raise county taxes 8.6 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Originally, freeholders had proposed a tax hike of 5.6 cents. In total, the amount to be raised by taxation will be $52,933,660.48. Each penny on the county tax rate raises about $500,000. …

Related:

Privatization of 911, jail nurses would save Salem County $1.1M, officials say
Source: Bill Gallo, Jr, NJ.com, May 18, 2016

Salem County could save over $1.1 million by privatizing its 911 dispatch center and medical staff at its jail, officials say a cost analysis shows. It will now be up to the unions representing those county workers whether they can provide concessions that would come close to the savings that using outside firms would bring. … If privatization of the 911 center is OK’d, annual savings would be $950,646.36, Chief Financial Officer Katie Coleman said Wednesday. The privatization of the Salem County Correctional Facility’s medical staff would save an estimated $216,204.48. The combined overall projected annual savings is $1,166,850.84, according to Coleman. Coleman said the cost analysis for 911 and the nursing staff will be presented to officials from the Communication Workers of America to see if their workers can make concessions needed to match or come close to savings privatization could provide. … The projected savings to the county are based on the lowest bids received: One for 911 dispatching from IXP Corporation of Princeton for $2,398,487.50 and three received for medical services: $2,550,880 from CFG Health Systems LLC of Marlton, $2,262,051 from Correctional Medical Care of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, and $1,920,132 from Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tennessee. Michael A. Blaszczyk, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1085, said his union, which represents the 911 and jail medical workers, wants to see their jobs saved. …

Bids are in for possible Salem County privatization. What’s next?
Source: Bill Gallo, Jr, NJ.com, May 15, 2016

On Friday, officials opened the lone bid for providing 911 dispatching services by a private firm. From IXP Corporation of Princeton, that bid was for $2,398,487.50. On May 6, three bids to provide medical services at the Salem County Correctional Facility were opened. They included: $2,550,880 from CFG Health Systems LLC of Marlton, $2,262,051 from Correctional Medical Care of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, and $1,920,132 from Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tennessee, according to the county. … The 911 center has approximately 37 full- and part-time employees. The jail nursing staff includes about 20 employees full- and part-time. Asked for how much the 911 center costs the county operate and how much the medical unit at the jail costs, a county spokesperson said those numbers were not available Friday. …

Don’t privatize our jobs, union workers tell Salem County freeholders
Source: Bill Gallo, Jr, NJ.com, April 7, 2016

Union workers have a clear message for Salem County freeholders: Don’t privatize our jobs. One option the county administration is considering to reduce costs is trying to determine whether money can be saved by privatizing the county’s 911 dispatching services and the medical staff at the Salem County Correctional Facility. … Estimates on how much privatization would save Salem County weren’t discussed. Solicitor Michael Mulligan confirmed that the county has completed a draft of a request to seek bids for privatization of the jail nursing staff. And a draft to seek bids for countywide dispatching services is in the works. Before these requests for proposals, or RFPs, can be put out seeking bids, the freeholder board must OK that action. The 911 center in Mannington Township, which is overseen by the Salem County Sheriff’s Office, has 31 full-time and seven part-time employees. At the neighboring jail, also under direction of the Sheriff’s Office, the medical staff is comprised of 16 full-time employees and two part-time workers, officials said.