Jan 19 2014

OPINION: Public Private Partnerships Need Further Clarification

RISK ASSESSMENT POLICY: What comes first fundraising or City agreement on accepting project funding? – 

A key element running through the new policy is the “determination of balance”- checkpoints where project cost estimates developed by city staff are compared with available funding for the project. The first determination is done by staff and if balance is found, staff must seek authorization from City Council to hire a consultant for implementation of the next phases. As complexity and detail are added to the project, multiple determinations of balance between staff and consultant cost estimates are made and if balance is found, Council authorization is requested to move onto the next phase. Council authorization will occur at a public meeting so the public will be aware of project progression. And it is at these checkpoints that the formal risk management analysis of the project and how each risk is proposed to be mitigated or managed is presented to the public. Cost and risk are to be estimated at each checkpoint.

For public/private partnerships, it is not clear how these determinations of balance are to be conducted. For public/private projects, the procedure stipulates: “If donations are anticipated for the project, [the city will] enter into an agreement with the private party proponents that specifies how the donations for the project are to be collected, held, and disbursed for the project development.” That makes senses but do all private donations have to be in hand at the time of the determinations of balance? That has not been the practice – project approval usually preceeds fundraising – so this area of the procedure needs further clarification.

Garrett Keating, Piedmont City Council Member

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

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