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Two Good Regional Ideas

Reval, Schools Towns in eastern Connecticut seek to collaborate, save money

The Hartford Courant

November 27, 2010

With the recession hammering tax revenue, it's worth noting two recent efforts of eastern Connecticut towns to pool services and save money.

The Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments has worked methodically throughout the year to get all of its towns to agree on a region-wide system of real estate revaluations, beginning next year. State law requires revaluations to take place every five years. This may be the first time that one Connecticut region has pooled resources to negotiate one contract to complete this predictable municipal chore on behalf of multiple towns.

So far, every municipality in the 12-town region except Union has agreed to participate, said John Filchak, the council's executive director. Union's refusal to participate, while shortsighted, doesn't have much of an impact on the effort, since it is the smallest town in the state.

The area is guaranteed a price of $29.54 for each parcel assessed, as opposed to an average price of $40 that towns paid previously. Over the next five years, the region expects to save close to $600,000.

It is disappointing that Mr. Filchak is finding more interest from other states in this effort than from other areas in Connecticut. There's no reason why all the state's regions shouldn't emulate the Quiet Corner's example.

Down the road a bit, the energetic chairman of the Norwich Board of Education, Charles Jaskiewicz, is trying to get 20 towns in the region to adopt a uniform school calendar. Happily, he's making good headway. This could begin next year.

A shared calendar would save money on services such as bus transportation, and would soothe the frayed nerves of parents who may have one child in elementary school, another in middle school and a third in a regional high school, all with conflicting school vacations and holidays.

Furthermore, Jaskiewicz said, the idea has great potential for expanding teacher training at no added cost to individual towns with shared professional days. Coordinating a region-wide professional day on Election Day could save money for towns that now are forced to rent private space for the polls.

We hope Jaskiewicz is successful in getting all the towns to sign onto this good idea. There are pockets of resistance to regionalizing anything, of course, largely because of ingrained tradition, otherwise known as being stuck in a rut. The chance to save money, time and hassle should overcome the hesitation of towns to change.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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