The cities within the Twin Cities Metro all have important engineering work and projects. To complete them, cities will hire a city engineer as a part of their staff. However, a city may choose to hire a public in-house staff engineer, or they may consult out a private engineer instead. There is no clear existing rule-of-thumb that cities follow in making this decision. As such, this thesis seeks to provide insight into why cities would choose to structure their engineering departments in specific ways, and why they would hire an in-house engineer or a consultant. To do this, nine city engineers from a diverse set of metro cities were interviewed, and profiles of their cities were explored. Data analysis on MnDOT Metro State Aid cities was performed, analyzing the influence of population size, income, population growth, population density, location, and consultant companies on their decision-making process.
From analysis in this report, population size and locational proximity to the central cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul play the biggest role in whether a city has a public or private engineer. Cities with populations lower than 15000 are more likely than not to have a public engineer, as are exurban communities outside the typical suburban rings of MSP. This report also concludes that the comparison of extremely low density or population size can almost always cause a city to go private. Other factors play much less influence in the greater picture, although each city does have to make their own choices based on unique histories.