Mayor Daryl Finizio has called for the phased consolidation of the financial departments of the and city of New London.
“After examining several Connecticut municipalities that consolidated their finance departments, my office has concluded that long-term savings can be achieved by proceeding with a phased-in consolidation here in the city of New London,” Finizio said in a press release.
Finizio is a member of an ad-hoc committee whose purpose is to make recommendations to the Board of Education and City Council on where administrative services may be consolidated. In a memo to the committee, Finizio said his office studied the communities of East Hampton, Madison, and Mansfield, all of which have carried out such consolidations. Finizio said such mergers eliminate duplicate purchasing agent, accounting, and finance director positions.
“The cost savings that result are not immediate and are demonstrated long-term,” Finizio said in the memo. “According to officials in East Hampton, they estimate that consolidation saved their municipality at least $1 million over 10 years.”
Finizio said more training is needed for staff to handle work from both the city and schools, but that this allows employees to have a broader range of knowledge and leads to a less adverse effect when other employees leave. He said consolidation also allows for easier access to information on the budget status and greater transparency of government.
Finance Director Jeff Smith formerly served as the Mansfield finance director, and supported consolidation in a 1996 report which was revised several times through 2008.
“The budget preparation process is vastly improved because of this consolidated financial management,” Smith says in the report. “The budgets are necessarily coordinated with each other early in the process because one entity is involved in the preparation of all budgets.”
Smith says consolidation also allows for any discrepancies between the financial statements of the city and the school district to be caught immediately. He said capital projects can also be better coordinated because the city and district would have more awareness of the fiscal situation of either entity.
In his memo, Finizio proposed the phased implementation of consolidated financial services. The first phase would improve existing consolidation services, while the second would consolidate information technology management and administration under the Board of Education while integrating the financial services used by the city and state on the same system. The third and final phase would be to “reorganize the consolidated administrative services to reduce duplication and assess how many employees are needed to handle the new responsibilities.”
Finizio recommended that the committee, or the Board of Education or the City Council, adopt a phase-in plan for consolidation of financial services.
Superintendent Nicholas Fischer said he will review the proposal with other members of the committee.