Pawtucket, Central Falls and East Providence are preparing to go into unchartered territory by joining a task force to study sharing municipal services.
The task force was created by executive order on June 28, when Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee named John Simmons, executive director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, as its chairman. Simmons’ experiences include chief of administration for Providence, Boston’s chief financial officer and deputy general treasurer for Rhode Island.
Hopes are so high for the panel’s success that its mere presence is already seen as an improvement. Three weeks after its formation, Moody’s Investors Service, a provider of credit ratings, gave the move a positive review, calling it a “credit positive for these financially challenged cities because it will likely lead to operating efficiencies and save operating costs.”
The Governor’s Task Force on Shared Municipal Services, as it had been named, was requested by Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien, who since taking office in January 2010 has been looking for a means by which the city could share some of its services.
The task force, which has not yet set a schedule to begin meeting, is expected to pioneer ways for municipalities to help become more efficient and cost-effective. It will suggest recommendations for the three municipalities.
The group will begin with public works but will also investigate other appropriate areas of municipal government for shared-services potential. Moody’s noted the practice is common in many states and often includes refuse collection; 911 emergency dispatch; snow removal; vocational and technical education; and water and sewer service.