Not a Big Hurry on Consolidation

Town Council should look at all factors before making judgment

Town Manager James McKenna has completed his “Consolidation Implementation Plan” and all agree that it is a well-thought out and well-constructed document. McKenna and his staff certainly put a lot of time and energy into compiling the information and organizing it, in what was only about three weeks time.

There are bold and innovative ideas in the plan about reorganizing the administrative functions and staffing of certain departments in the town, such as the appointment of a chief financial officer, assistant chief financial officer, school department business office manager, and part-time internal auditor.

The Town Council officially received the plan Tuesday night and we agree with their inclination not to rush to approve and implement the plan prior to the start of the new fiscal year. Town Councilor Nicholas DelVento, in particular, had expressed reservations about making major changes to the structure of town government in such a rapid fashion. Now the Council seems to be taking his point of view and is preparing to discuss it openly at both Council and School Committee meetings and then a joint meeting between the two bodies.

It took the direct question of Councilor-at-Large Philip Boncore to obtain the answer that hadn’t been addressed before, whether it was crucial to have the plan implemented by the start of the next fiscal year. Boncore, whose years of experience as a town official and attorney has been an asset as a Town Council member, obviously knew the pulse of the town on the consolidation plan, and was no doubt pleased when he heard that the plan’s implementation could be “adjusted” in next year’s budget if the Council and School Committee do in fact decide to implement it.

Even though it looked at first to be a monumental task to prepare a plan of this magnitude (without a consultant, mind you) in such a relatively short period of time, Mr. McKenna delivered it as he said he would. Now it’s up to the Council and the School Committee to weigh its benefits to the town and then cast one of the most important votes in quite some about the future direction of the town’s departments.

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