22 Aug 2014
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Gibson Report Tells Trumbull How to Save

The report recommends several merges that could save the town millions. But there are hurdles.

Gibson Report Tells Trumbull How to Save

Trumbull could reap a net savings of as much as $2.7 million a year if it implements changes suggested by the Gibson Group by 2014-2015.

The same company helped the Bridgeport School District find efficiencies. But some of the firm's ideas for Trumbull would be difficult to enact.

The report was presented to the boards of Education and Finance and the Town Council at a large meeting in Town Hall recently.

"This report I view as a blueprint," said First Selectman Tim Herbst.

Some town officials raised numerous questions regarding the challenges of implementation and issues facing the town. But overall, said Finance Board member Tom Tesoro, the report is a "challenge for all of us to begin a process to identify efficiencies."

"This is just the assessment phase," Tesoro said.

The report states that:

  • there are shared service opportunities between the town and the school district;
  • information systems are underused and technology is outdated, such the use of manual processes;
  • Joining the state health insurance program could save money, but it must be negotiated with the unions;
  • "Long-term efficiency and transparency could be improved by incorporating efficiency measurement into the town and district budget process."

The largest proposed savings would come from health insurance, transportation and custodial/maintenance.

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The group liked the current sharing of services; staffing levels for custodial and school clerical services; and district food service and transportation operations.

Mergers would save money because of fewer supervisory positions, more even distribution of work and lower costs. Those areas would include payroll, purchasing, accounts payable, technology, internal audit, maintenance and custodial and combining tax collection and assessments with neighboring towns' operations.

The proposal does not cover town police, parks and public works, focusing more on town administrative operations. It reached its conclusions after several months of study including on-site observations, analysis of alternatives and independent research.

Health Insurance

The town spends more than $20 million a year, with a participation rate of 58.5 percent, which is considered low, possibly ruling out participation in the state health plan. The town allows employees to take cash in lieu benefits. The town could save an estimated $1 million a year.

Technology

The school district's computers are "significantly outdated" at 6-10 years old. Eliminating duplicate information systems, maximizing software use and increasing collaboration would help the town and the schools.

Custodial and Maintenance, Transportation

To save money, the district could consolidate with the town, conduct an energy audit, reduce the summer work force and consider outsourcing. Vendor contracts need to be renegotiated or restructured after 2013 expiration to avoid excess costs.

The Board of Education meets Tuesday night to discuss the report.

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