Selectmen decline inter-municipal offer, look towards LEAN program

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.

Matthew Daigle/Sun Journal

Selectman Dana Whittemore, left, Selectman Bob Withrow, center, and Board of Selectmen Chairman Mac Gill listen to Al Hodsdon (not pictured) talk about the roof of the Public Works garage during Monday night's selectmen meeting.

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.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Dan McKay's picture

This select board advocates "

This select board advocates " Big Government " which is displayed by it's refusal to do anything that would significantly lower property taxes, such as reduce the town workforce by direct layoffs or consolidate services with surrounding towns. Big Government always protects it's own. Big Government will also reach beyond itself to combine with firms friendly to " Big Government " to "fool" the people into thinking they have their best interests in mind, when. actually they are helping to create the pathway to an even " Bigger Government". The story here is if you have property in Dixfield, you are being taxed right out of town.

Dexter Voter's picture

I am confused

I agree the idea of consolidating town services is only logical. What I don't understand is why the towns can not do this themselves, instead of hiring out of staters to tell them the benefits. I don't live in the area any more but I would be upset with the people voted into office if all the can do is decide who to hire instead of doing alittle work themselves.

Beverly Gallant's picture

What the heck?

I think that instead of speculating why this merge would not be appropriate for Dixfield, maybe there should be some research into the pros and cons. Rumford, Mexico and Dixfield have the population of what Rumford had when I was growing up. The burden is on 1/3 of the people who used to live here. Yet you are willing to throw in the towel without getting all the facts. Maybe the next budget meeting should be voted no on all articles and give you a wake up call. Dixfield pays almost two times the amount of taxes as Rumford and Mexico. When does it end? How many times do you think you can raise taxes before everyone moves out? We can't afford to stay here anymore. You have maxed out our ability to keep up with costs. This merger would be a relief, yet you leave it up to speculation.

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