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Regionalization study on horizon for Dixfield
DIXFIELD- Selectmen gathered for their weekly Monday meeting anxious to hear what Town Manager Linda Pagels-Wentworth, Bob Withrow and Scott Belskis learned at a meeting last week concerning regionalization efforts with Rumford and Dixfield.
“It’s a really good program,” stated Pagels-Wentworth. “But it needs to fit our town. It doesn’t mean we won’t support other towns efforts to move forward.”
The town manager stated that she would like to look into ways to save the town money by making small changes, “that will add up to larger savings in the end and help townspeople take ownership within the plan or grand scheme of things. The downer is that we’re talking employees and saving money means their livelihood.”
On Monday, the selectmen will be host to members of LEAN for a presentation on how they may be able to save money and look at better management styles that may help the town continue to move forward.
“We have Chief Pickett coming up for retirement next year,” noted Pagels-Wentworth. “I think that’s one of our reasons why we need to start looking at our future more closely. This may be an alternative idea to regionalization for us. We’ll still be supportive of other neighboring towns who decide regionalization is right for them, but we don’t have to do it if it’s not going to work to our benefit. Let’s find something that works for us.”
The cost of a town evaluation will run the citizens an estimated $6,000; the program will look at the town management structure, staffing and typical practices to see how to update and save time and money.
“I don’t want us to make a decision tonight,” stated Pagels-Wentworth. “I want us to just have an idea of what’s going on and what our options are.”
Chairman Macky Gill stated, “I’m curious to know why we wouldn’t look at regionalization with Peru, Canton or even Jay. Why Rumford and Mexico?”
Selectman Hart Daley noted, “Those larger towns have established police and fire forces. We could afford to partner with them more so than the smaller ones. But, even those smaller towns may be looking to do the same thing.”
In other business, Chief Pickett provided selectmen with copies of the updated mutual aid policy for the town, stating that, “It’s been quite some time since it was last updated. It’s time we got ourselves up to snuff on mutual aid policy. I try to update it regularly, but it went by the wayside and it now needed to be done.”
Selectmen were also given copies of policies from neighboring Jay, Wilton, Mexico and Rumford, as the policy is a state statute to ensure all towns have proper understanding and coverage of mutual aid.
Selectmen accepted the updated policy.
Selectmen also voted unanimously to accept the highest bidders on four of eight tax acquired properties, and to place the remaining four out for an extended bidding period, noting that three of the remaining properties be required to be torn down upon purchase.
The next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, September 16, in the Ludden Library Community Room, located downstairs.