An Inevitability – The realities of regionalization

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
By Transcript Staff

The topic of regionalization of services among area cities and towns took center stage in Winthrop this week when House Speaker Robert DeLeo came to Town Hall for a press conference to announce funds for a study to look into the feasibility of regionalization of municipal services for Winthrop, Revere, and Chelsea.

Regionalization efforts are being considered in order to help the communities share resources and thus lower expenses for certain functions. Speaker DeLeo has the support of the leaders of all three communities, including Winthrop Town Manager James McKenna in this endeavor, which will fall under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

Although the concept of regionalization has its strong proponents, there are sure to be dissenters along the way. However, there does appear to be a consensus that savings can be found by regionalizing public health, veterans services, public works, and libraries, all of which were outlined by Speaker DeLeo’s office in a press release on the matter.

The unfortunate fiscal reality facing state government, and by extension, the cities and towns, is that things are worse than they were during the Great Depression and will continue to be dire for the foreseeable future.

We support the study and applaud Speaker DeLeo for enabling the first step in the process toward regionalization to get underway. We would add that having the House Speaker leading the way is a very good sign for Winthrop and one that says to us that Speaker DeLeo will make it happen for the benefit of Winthrop, Revere, and Chelsea.

  • Tom McNiff

    Regionalization of municipal services works well in some areas of the country, as in Los Angeles County, CA and two Long Island, New York counties. However, the concept being advocated by state Rep. Robert DeLeo and his colleagues is fraught with threats to Winthrop as smallest of the three communities. Many of the regionalized service units are best know for police and fire services that cross municipal borders, a concept that makes much sense. Smaller municipal offices such as information technology, veterans services, libraries and public works need to be carefully considered, particularly to prevent larger political bodies such as Revere outmuscling Winthrop sized communities in a sharing of the work. In other words, do the potholes on Broadway in Revere and the Prattville section of Chelsea get filled before crumbling streets in Winthrop are repaired? The other question is how far this services regionalization goes before the line crossing to merger of community identities (Winthrop becoming part of Revere and/or Chelsea) must be decided. All this broughaha reported this week does not mention the municipal department which would likely be the most beneficial service sharing in both an economic and a policy sense: schools. Talk of regionalizing Winthrop, Chelsea and Revere schools would stir tribal loyalties that would likely bring obsessional resistance.

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