A consultant hired to assess the town's public works and plant-and-facilities departments recommends combining and reorganizing the two departments, hiring more staff and outsourcing several services.

In wake of criminal investigation at the water treatment plant, the consultant also suggests having the water treatment plant supervisor report directly to the town manager's office.

"They came up with a set of recommendations, none of which in my estimation are earth-shattering. A lot of it we knew about," said Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski.

The consultant, Shrewsbury-based Matrix Consulting Group, was paid $25,000 and has issued a 161-page report called the "Management Assessment of the Public Works and Plant and Facilities Departments."

The approximately six-month study highlights a number of things the town is doing effectively, such as its use of particular software and computer systems to carry out and organize its work, the use of surveys to get feedback from residents and the positive responses on those surveys, and the town's comprehensive energy-management system.

However the study says, a number of other areas need improvement. One of the biggest: how the town maintains its buildings, roads and vehicles.

"One of the things he points out is that our staffing is subpar in areas of preventative maintenance," said Stapczynski. "They're also pointing out where we need to make improvements."

The report was expected to be reviewed for the first time at a tri-board meeting of Selectmen, Finance and School committees yesterday, Wednesday, after Townsman deadline. The report itself was posted on the town website in advance of the meeting.

The team behind the study "conducted a comprehensive organization and management analysis of the departments' existing operations, service levels, infrastructure management, organizational structures and staffing levels," the study reads. It determined the two departments already employ a number of best practices.

After listing those best practices, the document covers a "four-point agenda for change," with sections focusing on management systems, preventative maintenance, organizational transition and cost-effective service delivery.

Improve Management Systems

The consultants write that, in the Department of Public Works "managers and supervisors have little information available through automated and summarized means with which to make key service delivery and budgetary decisions. The (DPW) and (P&F) departments both face a number of challenges to use their resources more efficiently, and more importantly, to redirect resources and invest in maintenance and preservation of the town's assets."

In this category, and others, "not all improvements are budget-related," according to Stapczynski. "They're encouraging that we go to more performance measurements, to look at accomplishments in the way we do business."

Department Consolidations

"The project team has analyzed the organizational structures of the two separate departments, as well as the intra-departmental structures," said the study. The study was done when supervisor positions for both the Department of Public Works and Plant and Facilities are vacant, and it suggests combining the departments under one director.

"They did suggest that perhaps there could be a consolidation of the two departments, and they came up with a couple alternatives for how we could do that and how we couldn't do that," said Stapczynski.

The study also highlighted that the town could save $133,108 in payroll and benefits costs by consolidating the DPW's highway division with P&F's Cemetery, Forestry, Parks and Grounds division. A merged organization could also be created out of Engineering, Streets and Grounds, Water Distribution and Sewer Collection Maintenance, Facilities Maintenance and Materials, and Purchasing and Fleet functions.

The study also notes that the water treatment plant could be, and should be, "treated as a separate organization reporting directly to the town manager, or assistant town manager."

Hire, Outsource Services

The study recommends Andover hire more maintenance employees, something that Stapczynski agrees is a need in the future, specifically in preventative maintenance.

"One of the observations they're saying is that this could be addressed better by having more staff to deal with the building repair and maintenance items," said Stapczynski. "Over time, our square footage, our buildings are not going down. It's going up, so we're going to have to add dollars and manpower and staffing to maintain those facilities."

The consultant recommended hiring a design planner reporting to the Facilities superintendent, at a cost of $112,000. "This position would be responsible for conceptual design, CAD drawings, retention and maintenance of as-builts, facility inspections, and other duties," said the study.

At the same time, several outsourcing opportunities are identified. The study says the town would save anywhere between $157,769 to $257,769 by outsourcing the mowing, weeding and trimming services at the parks and cemetery. The town should issue a request-for-proposal to determine the feasibility of outsourcing street-sweeping operations, and it should investigate whether it should assume responsibility of the school's custodial services. Then, if it would be cost-effective, outsource those same custodial services.

• • •

For feedback on this story, or for other story-related inquiries, please email dluca@andovertownsman.com.

Combine Facilities, Building/Electrical, HVAC and plumbingSave $129,328

Consolidate DPW and P&FSave $83,880

Purchase/install problem-reporting softwareSpend up to $60,000

Combine highway with other divisionsSave $133,108

Hire design plannerSpend $112,000

Outsource lawn careSave up to $257,769

Hire skilled trades mechanicsSpend $70,000

New Computerized Maintenance Management SystemMinimal if covered by state grant

Replace vehicles on more timely basisSpending not quantifiable

Consider outsourcing street-sweepingSavings unknown

Consider privatizing some cemetery responsibilitiesSavings unknown

NET TOTALSave $262,085-$392,085

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