BRTF suggests other ways for the town to save money

Published December 18, 2008 | Budget Review Task Force | Automatically Archived on 1/26/2009

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Besides saving money through a merger of the Sudbury Public Schools and Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High, .regionalization of public safety administration could bring Sudbury financial benefits through partnering with neighboring towns such as Wayland, Lincoln, Concord, Maynard, Weston, Hudson and Stow.

The projected financial savings would be about $600,000.

“That’s probably a low estimate,” said Paul Pakos, a Budget Review Task Force member. “We’d probably get much more significant savings if we consolidated dispatch services as well as administration.”

Pakos cautioned that the study was very preliminary and merited more study.

Regionalization, common in other parts of the country, has not been successful in Massachusetts, said Pakos, due to a host of problems from unions to unwillingness of towns to relinquish sole control over budgets.

Town Manager Maureen Valente said regionalization “is already in play” to some extent and that the Sudbury police and fire chiefs are “intrigued,” but want to study other regionalized police and fire departments.

“We would have to look hard at the functions of each department before we can estimate savings,” said Valente.

State Rep. Tom Conroy (D-Wayland), who attended the meeting, said Governor Deval Patrick is in favor of regionalization of services.

“It’s a good concept. We’re pushing it at the state level,” said Conroy. “The legislation makes it easier for towns to make these alliances.”

In July Patrick signed into law an amendment to MGL Chapter 188 which gives selectmen the authority to enter into regional agreements without approval of Town Meeting.

The BRTF report also recommended regionalization of road maintenance, an effort that would save about $500,000, by consolidating administrative and engineering functions only.

BRTF member Karen Massey presented the report’s recommendation on collective bargaining, primarily on teacher contracts, that included the need to create a better balance between salaries and health care costs.

Selectman Chairman Larry O’Brien said all parties “have heard this loud and clear,” but collective bargaining rules prevent discussion between different groups to avoid an appearance of collusion.

Other recommendations for long-term accrued liability savings included changes in health care plans offered, including changing to the Government Insurance Commission program for health insurance.

The BRTF recommended a fee-based all-day kindergarten program, a goal of the Sudbury Public School system as well, an initiative that could generate as much as $400,000 in revenue with a $5,000 annual tuition.

The 76-page BRTF Preliminary Expense Reduction Report will be available on the town Web site as soon as the selectmen determine a method for public comments, suggestions and corrections.