Public Finance, Not Wall Street Profit: P3's -- Public Private Partnerships

April 2011

The term "public private partnership" is something you have probably recently heard.

General news reporters have been saying it; local officials like to repeat it.

It has a ring to it; sounds legal; important. It is cool to shorten and say "P3."

But... if you get past the Wall Street term, a "public private partnership" means a corporation is taking control of a public property. There is not much of a partnership other than a Municipality needing money and selling/leasing a long-held valuable public domain.

It could be government buildings being sold and then that same government must pay rent on that same building. It could be a City packaging together all its parking meters and then selling/leasing all those parking meters for a calculated reduced sum, and then for decades to come every time you put a quarter in those parking meters the corporation is making millions if not billions.

It could be a road, or a bridge, or an airport or anything that has value that a State or County or City could sell. So as you hear "public private partnership" you should look past the term and understand the deal.