Starting from scratch
Project: Public-private partnership
Jurisdiction: Johns Creek, Ga.
Contractor: Denver-based CH2M HILL OMI
Date began: December 2006
Cost: $18 million for first year
On Dec. 1, 2006, 62,000 Georgia residents found themselves at home in a newly minted municipality. Johns Creek, previously a 31-square-mile unincorporated area in Fulton County, had become an official city, but it lacked any employees to perform city services.
To staff the city, the newly elected mayor and six-member city council decided to follow in the footsteps of neighboring Sandy Springs and contracted with Denver-based engineering and consulting firm CH2M HILL OMI to perform all city services. Under the contract, which is renewable annually for five years, the company performs all services for the city except public safety. Johns Creek is forming its own police and fire departments, but in the interim, Fulton County continues to provide those services.
As a result of the contract, only six people — including the city manager, chief of staff, executive assistant, special projects coordinator, city clerk and clerk of court — are employed by the city. The private contractor employs the rest — approximately 80 people — to staff the public works, community development, human resources and other administrative departments. When the police and fire departments are established by next year, they will be staffed by public-sector employees.
The company works under the direction of the elected officials and the city manager and is authorized to perform all city services, including contract administration, customer service, code enforcement, IT services, accounting, capital program administration, building maintenance, street maintenance, parks and recreation management, and more. As needed, subcontractors are enlisted to fulfill work requests.
Each year, the contract, including the scope of work and deliverables, will be reviewed, and renewal will depend on the company’s performance. So far, all goals are being met as specified. “It has allowed us to start up our city very rapidly,” says Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker. “In the end, our rapid deployment of skilled resources, combined with excellent customer service, has made the transition to cityhood smooth for [the] businesses and residents of Johns Creek.”