Municipal services run by for-profit companies


    I recently learned our “public” library is managed by a company on the East Coast. Soon after I moved to the Rogue Valley, I learned that the “municipal” landfill is, in fact, owned by a private company. Are there other “municipal” services that are really for-profit enterprises?

    — Robert P., via email

    Before we explore private companies performing public services, allow us to douse the quotation flames a notch. There’s a piece of info that came about after you emailed your question.

    You are correct that Maryland-based Library Systems and Services, formerly known as LSSI, has operated Jackson County’s libraries since 2007; however, you may have missed reports that the Jackson County Library District notified the private company last month that it won’t renew the contract with the private company when it expires in June of next year.

    You may not have been around these parts in 2007 when Jackson and Josephine county commissioners closed the local libraries, but it’s worth noting that contracting with the private company to handle everything from book orders to human resources wasn’t unanimous back then.

    Mail Tribune archives show that the last time Medford had a “municipal” landfill was Jan. 23, 1959, when the city closed a dump on Ellendale Drive. By that time, the city had franchised trash service to City Sanitary Service for more than two decades. That private company has been operating the Dry Creek Landfill since 1972, and is now the Rogue Disposal & Recycling we know today.

    Archives show the White City transfer station opened before the start of the 2000s.

    If you pay a power bill outside the city of Ashland, you’ve probably noticed that Pacific Power & Light handles electricity. In Ashland, power has come from the Bonneville Power Administration since 1982, after the city ended a decades-old contract with Pacific Power & Light, which serves the rest of Southern Oregon (unless you live in a yurt or something).

    As for other municipal services handled by other companies, we suppose you could count the cable company — at least if you’re living outside of the area served by Ashland Fiber Network.

    Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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