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Could towns do a better job than RMV?

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor

I covered Republican gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos' appearance in Agawam last week and he said something that I thought was very interesting.
Mihos said that if elected, he would eliminate the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) as a state agency and transfer the duties of the registry to each municipality in the state.
Each community would keep the profits made from renewing licenses, etc., which Mihos said could provide considerable property tax relief to each town in the state.
Mihos has a deserved reputation for speaking his own mind and being an independent and this idea is typical of his thinking outside the box.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I wondered just how it would work. Granted, a RMV in every town would certainly keep those lines down, but could every town afford to run its own Registry function?
Could Southwick, Granby, Huntington, Tolland or Brimfield, for example, set up the infrastructure for handling a person looking for his or her motorcycle license? Could a small town handle the flow of work coming from car dealers and insurance companies? How would any town afford the training necessary for the staff during this time of strained budgets?
And what about the law enforcement side of what the Registry does? Who would be in charge of that function?
My wife recently spent an hour at the Springfield RMV re-newing her license. We tried to do it online but were not permitted to do so as she needed a new photo. There was no point in telling the cyber RMV that she really hasn't aged much in the past five years.
I'll have to go through the same thing in May and get a new serial killer mug shot to replace the one currently on my license.
Breaking up the RMV is an interesting concept and I'd be receptive to hear more from Mihos on just how this would work.
***

So do you think town workers in your community have had some of the perks the folks in Springfield have had?
During a press conference unveiling the draft of the city's four-year financial plan last week, it was revealed that one way the city could save some scratch is to eliminate "incidentals" from the contracts of some of the union employees.
These perks include "time off on Fridays to cash checks, shopping time at Christmas, 'show up to work' bonuses, [and] workers paid for a full day, but allowed to punch out before the end of a shift."
As W.C. Fields would say, "Godfrey Daniels!"
Apparently these perks do not extend to every employee represented by a union, but boy, when I belonged to a union I wish they had negotiated these provisions!
I had to ask Mayor Domenic Sarno and his financial team when they were going to change the contracts and if I had time to apply for one of those jobs. Being good sports, they laughed.
I mean, really: time to cash your checks? If this was 1965, I could understand that perk as banks had tight hours back in the pre-ATM and pre-open-on-Saturdays era. Why have something like that now?
My colleague Paul Tuthill from WAMC offered an interesting observation. When the first Finance Control Board came to power, it re-negotiated city contracts. Did they miss this or did they allow these perks because they were taking other provisions away?
***

Speaking of Sarno, he has issued an invitation to President Obama to play a two-on-two basketball game in Springfield with Sen. Scott Brown and Brown's daughter. Obama would have to bring along a female college player of his choosing.
The game would raise money for a local charity.
Could that even happen? Hey, I give credit to Sarno for asking. If it happened it would give Springfield a big publicity bounce.
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to news@thereminder.com or to 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.


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