submitted by Ken Picard
Five years ago both governments of Mendon and Upton were struggling financially due to the economic slowdown. These financial struggles impacted the local governments’ ability to supply services that their constituents needed and expected, which includes our Regional School Districts, Police Departments, Fire and EMS Departments, and our Public Works Departments. The demographic of Mendon and Upton are very similar. Our similarities include: population, per capita income, tax base, desire the limitation of commercial growth, and both are bedroom communities.
In an effort to find solutions to our financial struggles, both governments and the School District formed a team called the Multi-Board. The mission of this team was to develop collaborative approaches to increasing communication and lessen our financial struggles of the three entities. Like all teams the Multi-Board went through the multiple stages of team formation. When the Multi-Board reached the performing stage, all team members agreed that each entity needed to continue to provide quality services and reduce their respective delivery cost; create better value for our constituents. Each entity was tasked with reviewing their internal policies and practices and to find shared and individual opportunities to reduce operating costs. The basic premise is to find innovative ways to create better value for our constituents.
The School District has embraced technology to increase efficient delivery of educational programs. The District has reduced facilities operational costs by taking advantage of programs that reduce energy consumption. The School District has also managed its fixed costs by limiting wage increases and limiting insurance costs increases. The implementation of these programs and others demonstrates progressive decision making that is providing positive impact and increasing value for the tax payer. The School District has developed and is implementing a strategy of continuous improvement and improving value.
Upton’s government has changed alignment of its organizational structure to improve and increase delivery of services, which is creating better value. Better value has been achieved by developing municipal agreements with four other Towns to share services, taking advantage of energy consumption reduction programs and embracing technology to provide transparency and efficient delivery of services. During this time period Upton’s government has replaced 1 mile of water mains, installed a third municipal well, performed reconditioning to an existing municipal well, renovated a town hall, and is getting ready for 2.8 miles of roadway and infrastructure improvements and the reconfiguration of two major intersections via a Federal Transportation Improvement Project. Upton’s government has developed and is implementing a strategy of continuous improvement and improving value.
Mendon’s government still seems to be struggling financially. Their fiscal policy of allocating one half of the Mendon’s proposition 2-1/2 levy increase and one half of Mendon’s new growth receipts is the driver for School District’s funding for both towns. The State’s funding formula for K-12 public school is requiring that both our communities carry more of the financial responsibility for educating the children. This formula is based upon the aggregate property values and personal income levels within each town, and again, our communities are very similar in these two areas. Complaining how unfair this burdens is to educate our children will not change the fact that it is our responsibility. I do not know what Mendon’s government needs to do to change its condition. I do know that Mendon’s government is using an internal financial formula that is unsustainable for the School District.
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