Letter: Outdated practices explain growth in town’s budget

To the editor,

At the Prospect Town Council meeting on April 3, Region 16 Superintendent Michael Yamin discussed his anticipated budget for 2018-19 which called for no increase, and probably even a small decrease. (The Region 16 Board of Education subsequently approved a budget that decreases spending about $80,000.) Town Council member Carla Perugini-Erickson asked how given a number of contractual increases and without decreasing student services, it was possible to contain costs? Mr. Yamin responded that Region 16 performs regular reviews of its operational procedures, even the ones that appear to have worked for years, to see if there are opportunities to make them work even better. These reviews include the services that are provided by outside vendors. With all the fiscal uncertainty in Hartford, I’m sure the Prospect taxpayer appreciates this aggressive approach to cost management.

Unfortunately, nothing resembling this is done for Prospect’s own operations. Everyone knows that Mayor Robert Chatfield’s mantra is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Clearly a subjective standard, and with so much still being done manually, the only thing at risk of “breaking” is the point of a pencil. Practices and procedures that may have worked well enough 10, 20 even 30 years, and before technology was an option, are no longer efficient but never even get reviewed.  The same is true for certain long-term vendor relationships that involve no competitive bidding. These outdated practices help explain why the town’s budget is constantly growing.

The typical student in Region 16 enjoys access to better technology than do the town’s own employees. Given the mayor’s resistance to even consider cost-saving alternatives that work well in all towns not named Prospect, the town’s budget will continue to expand.

Hopefully, the members of the Town Council will acknowledge this and not just rubber stamp another of the mayor’s traditional budgets.

Thomas Galvin

Prospect