Letter: RWU professor was wrong to go to the newspaper

Posted

To the editor:

Juggling annual town budgets while also considering effects of today’s decisions on the town 10, 20 and 30 years ahead is the unique skill expected of town managers.

Many complex issues crowd today’s municipal finance agendas. Along with “privatization,” town managers must consider the effects of long range pension costs; they must evaluate current trials of “regionalization” (Bristol/Warren school) and “shared municipal services” (Smithfield, Burrillville and Gloucester) and other recent cost-saving experiments.

Changing times give managers enormous challenges in keeping their towns financially healthy through future years. To be attacked by a math teacher with a short-term analysis of this town’s financial data that reportedly failed to include pensions, vehicle amortization, one-time disaster clean-up costs and other normal issues was a puzzlement to our town manager.

He seems justified in seeking some explanation — especially since the teacher has refused invitations to learn more about privatization. (Could we read that analysis?)

Going to a newspaper before discussing the issue with responsible officials qualifies more as political mischief than it does academic research. The teacher might learn more to share with students after research with town officers — if such is the intent.

Privatization of trash collection is now a well-proven municipal concept. I’m told that half of Rhode Island’s towns have made the change. Hopefully, our town is facing its future on a solid financial basis because of decisions by our officials.

The learning experience continues.

Will Barbeau

Barrington

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.