BRISTOL - In light of the continuing concerns with the stateâ€™s financial issues, Bristol has taken proactive steps to find savings and efficiencies that improve the delivery of city services.
â€śWith the uncertainty at the state level, we want to be prepared if we take another hit,â€ť said Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. â€śWe are evaluating and reducing operating costs to create a cushion. Every time a position becomes vacant, I speak to department heads about a cost/benefit analysis. We discuss whether we want to keep the position as it was, modify it or eliminate it. My job is to ensure that department heads can justify every position that they want filled and that they deliver the highest quality of services.â€ť
The following changes were put into effect July 1:
The Board of Education employee currently working at the Central Office on Church Street and the city employee currently working in the personnel office at City Hall are in the process of being relocated to work together into one office at City Hall. That office will be located on the third floor, in the former probate offices, and will be up and running by mid-August. The employees in both positions handle employee health insurance benefit plans and policies.
â€śThis will improve our efficiency and services and possibly generate savings in the long-term,â€ť said Zoppo-Sassu. â€śOur Treasurerâ€™s office is next door so if someone is looking to go from employed to retired they wonâ€™t have to run around between offices as much. Things will be more organized.â€ť
The Board of Education and city have integrated the facilities management of all city-owned properties.
Peter Fusco, the Building Facilities manager for the Board of Education, will now oversee both functions and coordinate all repairs, as well as long-term management of maintenance of systems and scheduled improvements.
â€śThe improved coordination and communication should result in increased efficiencies and employees working smarter and leveraging resources,â€ť said Zoppo-Sassu. â€śOne full-time City Hall position was eliminated in this consolidation.â€ť
Zoppo-Sassu said that the library has been making use of a â€śvery talented electricianâ€ť whom she has been using to maintain other city buildings, rather than contracting out for a project. The library is then compensated by the city.
The Board of Education and City of Bristol have also integrated the Information Technologies functions under one director. Scott Smith, the IT manager for City Hall, will now oversee the IT staff for both sides - City Hall and the BOE - in order to more effectively coordinate all of the emerging information technology security issues, as well as the impact of new software coming on and utilizing the city server.
Zoppo-Sassu said that this increased integration will reduce server issues and security issues that have occurred in the past. She gave an example where the Board of Education went to upgrade their system and took down the libraryâ€™s system.
Bristol recently entered into a contractual agreement with Plainville to supply the neighboring town with building inspector services.
â€śI believe regional cooperation is really important moving forward,â€ť said Zoppo-Sassu. â€śIn this case, we have highly qualified inspectors who can provide a service to a neighboring town who can pay for those services while they determine what they want to do with the function, following the retirement of a long-term employee.â€ť
Zoppo-Sassu said that she believes that it is important to get ahead of regionalization efforts when opportunities arise, rather than being surprised if the state or federal government decides to mandate cooperation.
The city also collaborates with the Burlington in the form of the Bristol-Burlington Health District.
The new director is expected to be announced in mid-July once background checks and references are complete. Zoppo-Sassu said that there are five â€śhighly qualifiedâ€ť candidates who have applied.
â€śThe Health Director, Chuck Motes, recently retired, and the Burlington First Selectman, Ted Shafer, the chairman of the BBHD and myself have been interviewing candidates to replace Dr. Motes for the last two weeks,â€ť Zoppo-Sassu said.
â€śIt is really important that the new director will have the skill sets to address the issues that a city like Bristol is facing, as well as the issues that are important to the more rural nature of a town like Burlington.â€ť
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or .