LaBonte urges some privatization as Auburn council considers budgets

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AUBURN — Mayor Jonathan LaBonte spoke up Monday for privatizing several city functions as a way to save money.

City councilors reviewed five department budget requests during Monday workshop meetings before and after their regular meeting. They reviewed staff requests from the following departments: Health and Social Services, Assessing, the City Clerk, Finance, Human Resources and Information and Communication Technology.

LaBonte said he was bothered that most of the departments were asking for more money than they received last year.

“We’ve seen several departments come in so far asking for a 10 percent increase in spending,” LaBonte said.

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City Manager Clinton Deschene will work with department staff to trim requests and come up with his budget, which he is scheduled to present to councilors early in April.

“There will be cuts, but I want to hear what everyone has to say first,” Deschene said.

LaBonte said he wanted to talk about privatization.

“The only way you save money is to do things differently,” LaBonte said. “If that means we no longer have an assessing office, and people can’t walk in off the street and talk to an assessor, that may be the amount of government people can afford.”

LaBonte argued for privatizing several city functions, including the entire assessing department, and functions in the Finance and Information Technology departments.

“I don’t if we’ve looked at this before or if they are open to it,” LaBonte said. “I’m not smart enough. I can use Twitter, but if you asked me to build a model to privatize IT, I could not do it. But we need to be really creative if we want to move aggressively.”

Councilors are scheduled to continue reviewing staff budget requests. Deschene said he thinks councilors will meet multiple times in the coming weeks, including on Thursdays, to continue their reviews.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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