Sunday, April 09, 2006

Thoughtful Problem Solving

Charlie McCarthy’s tenure in town government both as Warrant Committee Chair and as Selectman has resulted in more progress for the town than we’ve seen in many years.

His well-known role in the building of our Council on Aging Center, our new schools, and the soon to be expanded and renovated library are only part of the story. Charlie has worked to streamline our town government, keep our costs down, and find new sources of funds. These kinds of successes require a thoughtful approach to problem solving.

Charlie’s opponent, John Michael Shields, has proposed as a key plank in his campaign a cooperative effort with neighboring towns to lower costs for trash removal. While this idea might have superficial appeal, if you look into the matter you’d find that no one in our region is doing it. Is that because no one has thought of it?

There would seem to be two ways in which a multi-town, cooperative approach could theoretically save money- bargaining power for tipping (disposal) fees or for collection costs. But volume of waste does not provide negotiating power because the supply of landfills and other disposal types is limited in Massachusetts. That’s why the city of Cambridge pays $91 per ton to Milton’s $80 despite having a much greater volume of solid waste. The city of Boston has divided the city into 11 separate districts. Each one is bid out separately with multiple contracts issued. They pay anywhere from $77 per ton to well over $80 per ton.

On the collection side, a cooperative approach presents operational issues that are almost impossible to overcome. Members would have to have very similar solid waste programs. They would have to recycle at approximately the same rates, and recycle the same types of items. Even the South Shore Recycling Cooperative, an 8 year old, 15 town cooperative has never attempted a joint bid for trash.

So problem solving is hard work. But in just the past 2 or 3 years Selectman McCarthy has been involved in a number of successful efforts. 1) the town changed to a self-insured program which has saved us $650,000 in the first two years on health insurance costs. 2) the most recent contract with 6 town unions kept pay increases to just over an average of 2%, substantially less than the most recent contract for state workers, for example, 3) re-organization of town government has saved the town $1 million, and 4) the town negotiated a $1.7 million mitigation payment from NSTAR. Compare this to the town of Stoughton, which originally negotiated a $250,000 payment. The negotiator of that deal and the three selectmen involved are all gone.

Some have said we need some new blood in Town Government. I’ve got news for you, in this election Charlie McCarthy is the new blood. He doesn’t believe that just saying no constitutes a vision for the town of Milton. That’s why I’ll vote for Charlie McCarthy on April 25th.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of your thoughtful insights. I really enjoy them and agree wholeheartedly. Keep up the good work.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job of going beyond rhetoric and emotion to the logic of why Charlie McCarthy is the right choice!

8:44 AM  

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