Borough officials back strategic study

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Naugatuck officials discuss a long-term strategic plan on borough government Aug. 22 at City Hill Middle School. –LUKE MARSHALL
Naugatuck officials discuss a long-term strategic plan on borough government Aug. 22 at City Hill Middle School. –LUKE MARSHALL

 

NAUGATUCK — The Tri-Board has endorsed a strategic plan on operational changes to borough government.

“There’s going to be a lot of work that needs to be done over the next few months, so we’re not saying we’re going to take everything word for word from here. It’s a general endorsement of moving Naugatuck forward,” Board of Finance Chairwoman Diane Scinto said.

The West Hartford-based consulting firm Blum Shapiro was hired last November for $62,000 to complete a long-term study of all the departments and operations of the borough’s government. The executive summary study was presented to the Tri-Board, which is made up of the boards of finance, education, and mayor and burgesses, in July. The Tri-Board held a second meeting Aug. 22 to discuss the plan.

Burgess Michael Bronko was the only one to vote against endorsing the plan.

Bronko said he felt the report was filled with obvious observations and lacked recommendations on how to fix the problems facing the borough.

“It was a waste of taxpayer money,” Bronko said.

Among the most controversial recommendations in the report is the privatization of the Visiting Nurses Association, Youth and Family Services and trash and recycling collection.

The consensus of the board was that privatization should be explored further. However, since there was no data on what, if any, the cost-savings would be no decisions were made.

Mayor Robert Mezzo said privatization is not a new question the boards are facing.

“The VNA question has been around for as long as I can remember,” Mezzo said.

Bronko pointed out the borough did a study on the whether to make the trash collection a private or public service five years ago.

“We decided what we were going to do. We bought the trucks. We gave the whole town their equipment to use for the trash. So why are we talking about privatizing? It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Bronko said.

Throughout the meeting officials questioned whether to have a public hearing.

Bronko felt that the process should start with a hearing to give the public the chance to

voice their opinions.

Mezzo questioned what the public would raise questions on so shortly after the plan was released and how officials could answer those questions since they haven’t begun looking into any of the options in the plan.

Mezzo said he was not against having public hearings, but felt the public would be better served if the hearings were held once the boards have gotten closer to making decisions on some of the recommendations.

Scinto agreed saying that she was worried people would show up with concerns about what is being eliminated before any information has been gathered or decisions made. She said she would want the discussion to be framed rather than just open.

“I don’t want it based on fear but fact,” Scinto said.