John H. Allen: Outside report offers guidance on managing Hadley
To the editor:
Hadley had the Department of Revenue do a Financial Management Review. The study is on the DOR website and should be read prior to the DOR’s townwide presentation Sept. 25. There are 33 recommendations for consideration by the Board of Selectmen and others.
The report says the first priority is to develop a five-year strategic plan listing clearly defined priorities for the next five years. As the report explains, “the intent is to demonstrate that simply maintaining existing service levels will outstrip revenues in the near future.” Of course, there will be many unhappy people if service levels suffer or if new taxes are required.
The second priority is to link the townwide strategic plan to the annual budget. This is important to avoid expensive mistakes like allocating scarce resources to underused and deteriorating property, or to out-of-date practices. Joining regional programs and combining functions in Town Hall are just two of many cost-saving suggestions.
Third priority is for the Board of Selectmen, utilizing the town administrator, to develop a performance management program involving updated job descriptions, performance goals, employee professional development and performance evaluation and feedback.
There may be costs associated with addressing some of the recommendations but there is a larger cost to taxpayers and employees of doing nothing. Fortunately, existing staff, at little or no additional cost, can implement many of the remaining cost saving recommendations.
Like it or not, change is coming if the report is correct that the cost of existing services will soon exceed the availability of funds to pay for them. This will not be easy, so be aware and get involved.
John H. Allen