Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More thoughts on shared services

I was just reading the story in the Daily News about Amesbury's Municipal Council approving the shared health services agreement.

Because I was sort of charged up last night after the meeting, I held off commenting a lot about things that were said at the meeting, but in the light of a new day -

Aside from the "excess capacity" remark by Robert Lavoie, Councilor Allen Neale also remarked that the town had held 2 workshops on the agreement - neither of which anyone from Newburyport attended.

There was no one from Newburyport at last night's meeting, either (I mean in an official municipal capacity, of course, since Lynn Hendricks and I both live here).

Neale also noted, by the way, the Salisbury had given Neil Harrington authorization to accept minor changes to the agreement.

Anyway, I think that if I were debating such an agreement to basically hand over important city functions to another community, I'd sort of like to see at least one person from that other community who is taking an interest.

At the earlier meeting of our City Council (when the issue was tabled the first time), both Chairman Roger Benson and Lavoie were in the audience.

On Monday, Mayor Kezer's Chief of Staff Kendra Amaral was there, sitting next to our Health Director Jack Morris - an individual who stands to gain a lot in this deal, by the way. But he deserves it, Lavoie implied.

"Newburyport has expertise in the administrative function in the health area that is the envy of all of us," Lavoie said. "They're well organized and have good personnel there. It's just a fact of life that some people do things better."

Somehow thoughts of a certain landfill crept into my head - and I had to smile.

Speaking of the landfill, I drove down Low St. on my way home, for the specific purpose of checking out the aroma in the area.

I did not smell anything as I passed by Crow Lane, but I did start coughing down near Hale St. and there was a detectable sharp smell there, as there was at the Dunkin Donuts on the traffic circle (it was not as strong there).

But back to the issue at hand.

See, now here's the thing - if Newburyport does not join in this agreement, Amesbury will be totally screwed, having decimated its Dept. of Health and laid off its animal control officer and all that.

Amesbury must be pretty damned confident that this is going to pass our City Council, in spite of the fact that from the meeting a few weeeks ago, it did not look as if Newburyport was going to go for it.

But I guess we should note what Neale also said (this is from the DN):

And for their services, Amesbury and Salisbury will pay Newburyport and make it equitable in the process, said Councilor Allen Neale, chairman of the Finance Committee.

"Newburyport is going to pick up all the variable costs, but they also get from us a contribution to their fixed cost, which reduces their property tax bill at the end of the day," Neale said. "Anytime you more than cover your variable costs and pick up a fixed cost, that's good for the community."

Well I guess that's true, except from what I understand Newburyport is going to hire an animal control officer to cover nights and weekends and also pay a fee to Salisbury for its animal control guy. And don't forget the retirement thing.

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