CORE study identifies ways for Sudbury to save money

Published March 3, 2009 | Finance Committee | Automatically Archived on 4/6/2009

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The completion of a study designed to identify ways to achieve greater efficiencies, effectiveness and economic sustainability in school and municipal operations could lead to changes that will not only streamline operations, but save money.

The CORE project (Collaborate, Outsource, Regionalize, Evaluate) has already identified about $15,000 in savings for the coming fiscal year, said Andrea Terkelsen, Sudbury’s  Finance Director.

Terkelsen was a member of the steering committee which worked on the project using a model developed by the consulting team of Management Tools and Resources and Performance Partners. The goal of the CORE Cost Limitation and Efficiency Strategies Project was to find ways to contain and/or reduce costs.

The steering committee “is still digesting the final report of the consultants,” said Wayne Walker, assistant town manager, in a summary of their work for the selectmen on Feb. 24.

“We need to constantly find more and more efficiencies to take the burden off the taxpayer,” said Larry O’Brien, selectmen chairman.

Walker said  the town manager and Sudbury Public Schools superintendent hope to find ways “to work more collaboratively for better efficiencies.”

“This program came about due to a longstanding desire by the town manager and Sudbury Public Schools superintendent to achieve budget savings,” he said.

A $15,000 grant from the Sudbury Foundation in August 2008 enabled the town to implement the model developed by the consultants. In the model a steering committee of senior town and school management, and three task forces made up of department heads, studied three major areas where town and school could combine existing systems for greater efficiency and cost savings.

The task forces studied the possibility of combining school and municipal finance and human resources functions, consolidation of facility management, planning and maintenance divisions and the initiation of performance measurements in DPW operations as well as field and grounds maintenance and permitting, special project deployment and customer service.

The CORE project also took a “cursory look” at energy savings measures, said Walker.

The finance and human resources task force goal was to identify long and short term changes that would save time and eliminate redundancies, said Terkelson.

“We tend to run pretty lean on both sides, so most of our short-term goals have focused on technology,” Terkelsen.

Most of the technology focus is on online banking services including a vendor procurement card system that will streamline purchasing and payments which will help to cut time in processing thousands of transactions.

If she were to put all the checks written in accounts payable end to end, said Terkelsen, they would create a six-mile stretch of paperwork.

Terkelsen also hopes to include the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School District into discussions due to the Budget Review Task Force recommendation to create one K-12 school district.

Bill Talentino, library director, and a member of the facilities management task force headed by Building Inspector Jim Kelly, said that group’s recommendations include consolidating department functions to create a joint Department for Facility Planning, Management and Maintenance. This would create better oversight of maintenance of school and municipal facilities, expand the data base to track utilities costs and centralize the awarding of contracts. Energy conservation, and documenting use to identify potential savings said Talentino, is another recommendation of his task force.

Two recommendations of the public works task force are already in progress, said Walker.

The first is to create an enterprise fund, fully funded by user fees, for fields and grounds maintenance. The proposal to create the enterprise fund is on the agenda for Town Meeting.

The second recommendation addresses customer service and is in progress. All incoming calls to DPW will be recorded and tracked to establish how the situation is addressed. The record will cover a broad range of calls and will be a way track the resolution of  customer calls on any DPW responsibility from potholes to snow removal. Eventually the system will be implemented across all departments.            

A third recommendation of the public works task force is the creation of a multi-department planning and review team to address town and school projects.