By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
In an effort to streamline operations, Town Manager Michael Borg is proposing an extensive reorganization of much of the town’s offices.
First discussed when we was hired early this year, the plan would affect nearly all departments. In some cases, it would be a consolidation of personnel, such as with the Department of Public Works. Borg’s plan would move the Solid Waste Department to the DPW offices and make it a division of the latter. No elimination of positions or layoffs are planned under this proposal.
“We can reinvent and re-evaluate ourselves to provide the very best public services,” said Borg at the Dec. 14 meeting.
Here are some other aspects of the proposal, which can be found here.
- The town’s animal shelter would be under the umbrella of public safety, with the fire and police departments and Emergency Management. However, the shelter would remain its own department.
- The staff and resources responsible for checking and maintaining the town beaches would be moved from the Conservation Commission to the Department of Parks and Recreation.
- Lenore’s Pantry would moved to the Allen Avenue School and partner with the Hockomock YMCA. A study is underway to determine if any repairs or modifications to the building are needed.
- The planning, zoning, building, conservation, and economic development offices would become divisions under the Community Development Department. The position of director of community development would be created to coordinate their actions.
- The Health and Human Services Department would be created, and under this would be Parks and Recreation, Richards Memorial Library, the Senior Center, and Veterans Agent.
- Assessments of properties would be done in-house, as opposed to using an outside vendor. This would provide more accurate and up-to-date information.
- A director of facilities position would be created to better manage town buildings and streamline repairs. This would provide a standard for this kind of work and relieve department heads of the responsibility.
Borg said that this reorganization could save the town some money. For example, he said that there are a number of areas where the DPW and Solid Waste could collaborate, such as the transfer station. Combining the two could absorb composting costs under the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund and lessen the burden on taxpayers.
“The departments already do some collaboration work, but there are no directors giving priorities and goals,” said Borg. “They do work very well side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder. My issue is not with their performance.”
To finalize this proposal requires a bylaw amendment that the Town Council would vote on. Borg said some impact bargaining would be done, and the financial effects of each change would be looked at.
The council was largely supportive of the idea, but opted to hold much of their questions until the Jan. 11 meeting. Darius Gregory said this proposal was an example of the leadership that the town was getting from Borg. He thought the Community Development Department was a good idea, one he had seen successfully employed in other towns.
“What I see here is an opportunity to find additional talent and take us further in the coming years,” said Gregory.
Councilor Michael Lennox raised a potential issue with the Lenore’s Pantry relocation. He said that the current site—Town Hall—puts it in the center of town, while the Allen Avenue School is further away, which could limit accessibility.
“I’m totally open minded, I just need to know the cost,” he said.
Council Vice President Justin Pare said that adding more directors could create a “top-heavy” town government, adding that the salary for one could potentially cover three lower-tier employees. He said that if this resulted in promotions, they should come from within.
“Cost will be my number one concern,” he said. “Can we afford it?”