Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Northborough Selectmen Exhibit Real Leadership

Demand Reforms While Beacon Hill Seeks Tax Hikes

Boston, MA - While Beacon Hill Democrats float ideas and proposals to raise taxes on income, sales, gas, meals, hotels, candy, non-carbonated beverages and liquor, the Town of Northborough's Board of Selectmen is demanding its Democratic lawmakers pass money-saving reforms to help cities and towns in time for the next fiscal year.

MassGOP Chairman Jennifer Nassour said, "The Northborough Selectmen are filling a leadership void left by Beacon Hill Democrats. Their call for reforms in municipal health insurance and construction would save millions for the taxpayers of Massachusetts. Reforms should be at the top of the agenda on Beacon Hill, not tax increases."

Northborough Selectmen Ask For Reforms, Is Beacon Hill Listening?

"Look at waste and ways to save money.": Sen. Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, and Rep. Harold Naughton Jr., D-Clinton, have been sent a letter from Town Administrator John Coderre outlining how the town feels its economic burdens can be eased through legislative reform. The letter lists six priorities and 10 secondary priorities town officials say they want its delegation to support. "We're asking for some relief," said Coderre. "To look at waste and ways to save money." (The Northborough-Southborough Villager, 3/9/09)

Health insurance reform is top issue: The top issue is the town's desire for greater control over employee health insurance outside of collective bargaining. Towns must negotiate with unions to make insurance changes, however the state has exempted itself from doing the same. Northborough could save about $400,000 in its fiscal 2010 budget if a bill filed on plan changes outside of collective bargaining is passed. "This one reform is the most effective way to bring immediate fiscal relief to all cities and towns and is urgently overdue," the letter states. (The Northborough-Southborough Villager, 3/9/09)

Reform purchasing laws and prevailing wage: Officials also are seeking an update to purchasing and procurement laws, which they feel are overly restricted and outdated. At a minimum, the requirements should be standardized for projects under $100,000. "The labyrinth of requirements for even the smallest of projects makes it impossible for public officials to use common sense and good business practices," the letter says. Officials are also requesting legislation that would exempt construction projects less than $100,000 from prevailing wage laws, because often prevailing wage is far greater than what local contractors pay. The letter cites an example of market research done by the Recreation Department on replacing the gym's floor, and determined a budget of $55,000 was necessary. That cost jumped to $82,000 after the procurement regulations dictated a need to inform bidders that the project was subject to prevailing wage. (The Northborough-Southborough Villager, 3/9/09)