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Mendon and Upton Discuss Possibility of Shared Services

The Mendon and Upton Boards of Selectmen began some preliminary dialogue about the two towns sharing services in an effort to provide both communities some cost-saving measures. The discussion took place during a February 5 Upton Board of Selectmen's meeting attended by the Mendon Selectmen

Upton Selectman Chair Ken Picard opened up the conversation explaining that the initial meeting did not guarantee anything but was at least "getting the dialogue going" about the prospect of sharing services.

Both Boards agreed some of those shared services might include the veteran's agent, the health agent, parts of code enforcement, the dog officer, and street sweeping.

According to Town Manager Blythe Robinson, Upton currently does not have a street sweeper and the fact that Mendon just purchased one could benefit Upton and result in some revenue to Mendon. In addition, the two Boards discussed helping each other with some of the state's mandated programs, including storm water management.

Mendon Selectmen Michael Goddard asked the Upton Board whether any type of analysis had ever been performed that might help town officials better understand which shared services would work best for the community. Picard explained that recently the role of the town's auditor was expanded to help evaluate town departments and look where improvements might be made.

Both Boards agreed that should shared services come to fruition, some resistance among employees would likely occur initially. Picard stated that Upton currently shares a Conservation Agent with the town of Ashland and now the town is seeing better services as a result. "We started that trend and we're seeing the benefits," he said.

Upton Selectman Robert Fleming noted because each town likely approaches things differently, sharing services might be a hard sell to some. "We'd be naïve to assume there wouldn't be resistance," he said. Selectmen Lawney Tinio added that he doesn't want anyone to lose a job over shared services. "That's not the goal," he said.

Selectman James Brochu agreed. "The last thing we want to do is overwhelm our departments, but we do want to show them it does work," he said.

Fleming added that now is the right time for both towns to explore the sharing scenario explaining that there is a trust among the two Boards that wasn't always present. "I'll be candid, it [trust] wasn't always there," he said. "We need to work together smarter, better, and more efficiently."

Both Boards agreed to continue the discussion and on March 4, the Upton Board of Selectmen will travel to Mendon to attend the Selectmen's meeting in that town.


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