During yesterday’s interim meetings, the Legislature’s Political Subdivisions Interim Committee heard reports from representatives of higher education, K-12 public schools, counties, cities, and others about activities they participate in that potentially compete with the private sector and how they go about deciding to engage in such activities.
Those activities were fairly wide-ranging. For instance, universities compete sometimes with the private sector by allowing their catering services to do business off campus, often at a lower price than private caterers do it. Public schools compete with private beauty schools by providing cosmetology courses. Cities and counties compete with private businesses by building recreation centers and golf courses.
When city and county representatives were questioned about the guidelines they use in making decisions about whether to offer a service available in the private sector, they responded that they consider whether the service is available at an “adequate” level privately, and also consider whether residents can save money if the privately available service is provided instead by local government.
Representative Curt Webb (R-Logan) expressed some concerns about the guidelines being used for decisions about whether government should provide services already available in the private sector. The committee decided to put the issue of proper guidelines for when government should provide private-sector services on its next committee agenda.