Codes evaluation should be left to new administration

We are normally big fans of government outsourcing of services that saves taxpayers money.

So, in the name of consistency, we have no quarrel with the city of Williamsport exploring the possibility of outsourcing its codes enforcement. Just not now.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana has explored the hiring of a Hazleton firm at a cost of $20,000 to study the idea and examine the existing city codes enforcement department and operations.

Code enforcement costs the city about $880,000 a year and the city’s budget is stretched paper-thin every year, so exploring savings is a responsibility for its governmental leadership.

But we wonder if that should be happening in the final months of this administration.

And we question whether codes enforcement is a governmental role that the private sector should be handling.

The city’s codes department has been asked to do more and more in the past decade. It has played an active role in the inspection of rental properties that were reported to be the sites of illegal drug and gun activities. Personnel have worked hand-in-hand with police on these matters. And the department has been aggressive in reducing the number of blighted properties in the city, particularly cracking down on rental properties.

There has been every indication these beefed-up responsibilities have been handled well. And it’s unrealistic to expect the significant uptick in jobs and responsibilities to come without any budget implications.

Much like police, city codes personnel make progress with long-term problems by developing relationships and a cooperative tone with the people involved. The city needs to be very careful before replacing that with a third party that will essentially have to start all over on some codes-related issues.

And even if that does make sense, the entire evaluation process belongs in the hands of the next city administration.

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