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When Should Private Money Pay for Public Projects?

With major projects ahead for city facilities, Patch wants to know when you think Hopkins should rely on private organizations to foot the bill.

2017 is looking to be an expensive year for the .

Expected projects for that year alone include a $5,000 information desk and kiosk, $138,510 in theater seat and back replacements and $220,000 worth of heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.

Such expenses aren’t a foregone conclusion. If the existing equipment exceeds its expected lifespan, Hopkins will be able to delay some of those purchases. Still, the facility has some major costs ahead.

Mayor Gene Maxwell suggested there might be a way around that, though. With the projects still five years out, the arts board could raise private donations to fund some of the projects. Individuals or businesses could sponsor a seat, for example.

Partnerships with private organizations aren’t unknown in Hopkins. after Little League Baseball chose the Hopkins program as its National Safety Award winner. Hopkins Little League has also replaced scoreboards on Fields 1 and 2 and built a new storage shed, among other improvements.

At the , Hopkins Youth Hockey and the high school boosters teamed up to build out a locker room and a shooting room.

Across Hopkins, partnerships like these have improved city amenities. They minimize the burden on taxpayers and often shift the costs to those who use the facilities most.

Yet they can never fully replace more traditional funding sources. There will continue to be a place for tax levies and municipal bonds in funding major projects.

That’s why Patch wants to know what types of projects you think mesh best with public-private partnerships. Should certain projects always rely on private money? Are there cases when the city should rely entirely on its own funds? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Bruce Rowan July 25, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Who in their right mind would be against private money contributing to public projects? As long as there are no conditions (as in certain political donations), everyone should be happy to see private funds lessening the taxpayer's burdens.
James Warden (Editor) July 25, 2012 at 08:13 PM
The key word is "rely." Some necessary projects wouldn't bring in enough private money to get off the ground. At other times the city might not want to put the burden wholly on private money. Street assessments, for example, are in effect private money paying for public projects. As you know, Hopkins divvies up street repair costs between the nearby homeowners and taxpayers at large. And sometimes private funding just might not be predictable enough for advanced planning. That's why I'm curious: - For which projects should we say, "Not gonna happen without private money"? - For which projects is private money nice but not absolutely required? - Which projects are too important to depend on private funding?

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