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CCM report stresses need for more regional cooperation

CT Post, Wednesday, December 16, 2015

By Ken Dixon

Sharing public works vehicles among adjacent towns is one way to save money, according to a new report by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

HARTFORD — The key to encouraging regional cooperation among the state’s 169 diverse towns and cities is to provide incentives to share expenses on education, public works and energy use, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

The 27-page said there’s plenty of room for further collaboration on health issues, economic development, public safety, property revaluation, recreational trails, social services, elderly programming and youth services.

“The Regional Education Service Centers, like the Regional Councils of Government, can play an important role in terms of helping make services more efficient and saving money,” said Kevin Maloney, communications director for the CCM, which represents most towns and cities in the state Capitol.

Maloney said regional councils can help towns and cities combined government functions including school boards, finance departments and grant applications.”There are models out there for combining IT functions, regionally, among towns; of truly making animal shelters regional in there capacity,” Maloney said in a Capitol interview. “In this day and age, when the economy is tight, when money at the state level is tight, people don’t want to pay any more in property taxes, it just is very logical and obvious that we have to find ways to cut down on inefficiencies.”

Without county government, towns and cities have to feel comfortable to seek cooperation on their own, Maloney said. “Towns have been cooperating regionally,” Maloney said. “More needs to be done. We need the state to step up in terms of helping empower towns to do more on a voluntary basis. The Regional Councils of Government can step up and do more.”

The Nutmeg Network of high-speed Internet service has been able to create some back-office savings as well. “We just want to show that towns are up to speed on the need to do regional cooperation. They know they need to do more and we’re looking to foster some more partnerships with the state.”

The report, developed after an October workshop on the issue, suggests that state government also draft model codes for regional cooperation.

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