Think Tank: State needs a policy center to help towns share services
Hartford Courant editorial
November 12, 2010
With the state facing massive budget deficits and towns struggling as well, one of the best opportunities to cut costs may be in regionalizing some government services. That was the message former Manchester mayor Stephen Cassano brought to the recent annual meeting of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
Many towns have already moved to share services such as building and health inspection, equipment such as wood chippers, and facilities such as animal shelters. This saves money and helps build trust among town officials. The question raised by Mr. Cassano is whether towns can move it up a notch and share core services such as public safety or education.
This is unquestionably more difficult, sometimes involving union contracts, jurisdictional issues and strong local tradition, and may not always make sense. What would be helpful is an entity that could study the issues around regionalism and determine where it makes sense and what it would take to get there.
A couple of years ago, former East Granby First Selectman David Kilbon and former Hartford chief administrative officer Lee C. Erdmann (now city manager of Springfield) proposed the creation of a public policy center that would focus on regional issues. Since some such research is now done at the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University, as well as at the state Office of Policy and Management, it should be possible to put this together — by consolidating services there into a regional institute. This is something Gov.-elect Dan Malloy should embrace.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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