DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen reached a mutual agreement Monday evening to decline a recent offer by the towns of Rumford and Mexico to join an inter-municipal proposal that would allow an out-of-state consultant to help identify areas where the towns could cooperate and consolidate services.
During a joint meeting between the towns of Rumford, Mexico and Dixfield on Wednesday, Sept. 4, the boards of selectmen for Rumford and Mexico approved a proposal from New Hampshire consultants Municipal Resources, who said that they would put together a comprehensive study to help “provide an independent, objective evaluation” to “identify opportunities to reduce or eliminate duplication and redundancy.”
Dixfield Town Manager Linda Pagels-Wentworth, along with Dixfield selectmen Scott Belskis and Bob Withrow, attended the joint meeting in hopes of learning more about the company's proposal and to see if it would be a good fit for their town.
During Monday's selectmen meeting, the board agreed that the proposal would not be the best choice for Dixfield.
“I think that it would be hard enough for two towns to pull something like this off,” Withrow said. “Throwing in a third town would make things a lot more difficult.”
Selectman Hart Daley agreed with Withrow, pointing out that “both Rumford and Mexico have full-time fire departments, but Dixfield has a volunteer fire department.
“I'm wondering how something like that would work if we were to merge,” Daley said, “We would be incurring cost. I wonder if Municipal Resources would take that into account, or if they'll just decide to throw us all together as a ten-thousand person population.”
After agreeing to decline the inter-municipal proposal, the selectmen agreed that the LEAN program they had been pursing would be a better fit.
The LEAN program is a business model in which professionals job shadow town employees to see whether there are ways to make work more efficient and make suggestions for cutting costs.
A representative from the LEAN program gave a presentation on what the business model could offer Dixfield during a meeting on Sept. 16. Pagels-Wentworth said that the selectmen “seemed excited” about the program.
That excitement carried into Monday's selectmen meeting, as the board unanimously voted to have Pagels-Wentworth begin looking into how much the LEAN program would cost the town to look into certain departments.
“For me, LEAN is less of an expense to the town and more individualized,” Daley said.
Selectman Dana Whittemore said that unlike the inter-municipal proposal, it seemed like the LEAN program was willing to solve any issues with the town by focusing on each department individually rather than “solving problems by combining things together.”
“Plus, it gives a little more local control to the town,” Whittemore continued. “I think that's what we lost with the school regionalization: local control.”
Pagels-Wentworth said that she would report back to the selectmen on what the price would look like to implement the LEAN business model into certain departments of the town.
In other business, selectmen unanimously voted to have Pagels-Wentworth solicit bids to repair a leak on the roof of the Public Works garage roof after Al Hodsdon of A.E. Hodsdon in Waterville presented a status report on the garage.