San Jose officials are looking into the possibility of replacing 41 police officers and 12 firefighters currently stationed at the airport with a private security firm. An estimated $10 million could be saved if such a switch were to be made. Airport officials have invited outside companies to submit proposals.
Does this idea really make any sense? After all, do we want to recruit “mall security” types to patrol our airport? Hard to believe that the Department of Homeland Security would ever approve of such a move.
Here’s a better idea to reduce costs. Rather than outsourcing security at the airport to a private firm, why not outsource some (or all) of the maintenance for San Jose’s parks? The city contracts with private companies to provide garbage collection and recycling services, why not contract out park maintenance? One could argue that having sworn public safety officers at the airport is a higher priority than having city employees cut the grass and trim the trees at neighborhood parks.
In theory, the savings that such a move could bring could then be transferred to the airport. In practice, such a move could not be executed, as the airport, while owned by the city, has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to sources of funding. Believe it or not, revenues and expenses are not transferred directly from the city to the airport, or vice versa. The airport and the city are “separate accounts.”
Given the dire state of government budgets, perhaps it’s high time that elected representatives re-examine the restrictions and barriers that stand in the way of practical solutions to the many problems that cities and counties now face. The idea that the City of San Jose can’t afford to place police and fire officers at the airport is, in a word, staggering.