Faced with tough budgetary choices, the city is eyeing the possibility of sharing equipment and perhaps services with neighboring towns.
Mayor Art Ward said he’s talked with the leaders of the towns surrounding Bristol – Wolcott, Plymouth, Burlington, Farmington, Plainville and Southington --- to get the ball rolling.
Ward said he hopes they can meet in March “to get some type of idea where we can help each other” and save money for taxpayers.
Gov. Jodi Rell has called for the state to offer financial incentives to push municipalities to try regional approaches wherever possible.
One area that’s bound to be on the agenda if area leaders meet is the possibility of sharing costly public works equipment, which no single town may need often but most have a use for sometimes.
Morris Laviero, a public works commissioner, said Bristol has a number of costly pieces of machinery sitting around so much that it’s hard to justify the expense of having them.
He said it is “a fantastic idea” to consider sharing with other towns so the financial burden is split and the equipment is used more often.
“There may be a way to use equipment that’s just sitting around,” Ward said.
Rell said in her budget address that her administration wants “ to help cities and towns through regionalism, a much discussed concept that must finally be put into action.”
“Municipalities can and should cut costs by sharing – sharing equipment, facilities, schools, personnel and more,” the governor said.
Her spending plan includes $40 million for new grants for infrastructure and equipment for municipalities “that want to join together to provide services like recycling, tax collection and payroll.”
There is also a $10 million fund proposed to assist regions to buy shared equipment such as plows, dump trucks and garbage trucks.
In addition, Rell said , two existing programs that pay for local projects and roads should be adjusted to provide 10 percent extra for towns that “join together on regionally beneficial programs.”
“It’s time regionalism was more than just something we talk about,” Rell said. “It’s time for it to be a reality.”
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Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org