Oliver Porter created and implemented the public-private partnership (PPP) model for Sandy Springs, Ga.—a city of 100,000 people near Atlanta. He has served as the principal advisor for many other new cities and for cities considering the conversion to the PPP model, both in the United States and Japan. He has authored three books on this subject and has agreed to sit down with The Freeman.
The Freeman: Can you describe in a nutshell what Sandy Springs, Georgia, has been able to do—that is, provide a sketch of your model?
Porter: The Sandy Springs model is a public-private partnership (PPP) in which the city contracts with private industry for all of its basic services other than public safety—that is, police, fire, and courts. The model has been an outstanding success, both financially and in response to citizens’ service needs, over the seven years since the city’s incorporation. Financially: The city has not increased tax rates at all; has paid for a major capital improvement program from savings in the operating budget; has built a $35 million reserve fund despite a recession; and has no long-term liabilities—that is, no loans, no bonds, and of most importance, no unfunded liabilities for pensions and other benefits.
The Freeman: How much money has the model saved taxpayers there?
Porter: Initially about $20 million per year—40 percent of the budget for the “basket” of services being provided. These services include: administration; human resources; finance; accounting; purchasing; information technology; the backroom operations for the police, fire and courts; parks and recreation; transportation (road and sidewalk maintenance, traffic design and control); community development (planning, zoning, permitting, and enforcement); and management of the capital program. Over the life of the contracts, I am comfortable in saying that over $140 million of the taxpayers’ dollars have been saved.