Former House Finance Committee Chairman Tony Pires is more familiar than most with the often glacial pace of action in the General Assembly. Now director of administration in Pawtucket, Pires and other city leaders know their financially ailing community can’t afford to wait any longer when it comes to the money-saving issue of sharing services with neighboring communities.
Last week Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee agreed to form a panel to help the city find ways to begin sharing services, as soon as next year. Talks have already been held with Central Falls about sharing street cleaning, snow removal and park maintenance.
State lawmakers have been discussing the issue for years. One legislative commission in 2010 concluded there are opportunities for cost savings and improved efficiency. Rather than recommend action, however, the panel called for more study.
A new commission formed in February is studying potential sharing in information technology; public-safety dispatch; tax assessment and tax collections. The panel’s goal is to identify savings of 20 percent over five years.
Pawtucket and other communities looking to avoid Central Falls’ path to bankruptcy need action now, however, a fact the governor, a former mayor, deserves credit for recognizing.
It is crucial now that the two panels avoid political squabbles and work together.
As Pires said in a story on page 14 in this issue, “It’s part of our strategy to save this city.”
In that effort the city deserves all the help it can get. •