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Federici announces bid for re-election to Board of Selectmen

Date: 2/28/2012

Feb. 27, 2012

By Chris Maza

EAST LONGMEADOW — Selectman Paul Federici will be the first to admit that his first term had a learning curve.

Still, while learning the ins and outs of the many procedures and processes involved with serving on the Board of Selectman, Federici feels he's made a difference and wants three more years to do more.

"I'll be frank, a lot of the first three years was a learning experience," he said. "I've come a long way. I knew the basic premise of the position when I ran the first time, but now I have a really good idea of what's involved and have a better handle on what the role of a selectman is.

"I think I've made a difference. I think I've been, for lack of a better word, a calming influence amongst the board," he continued.

Federici said one of the things he's come to value about the board is its member's genuine respect for one another, adding that having such an attitude helps them accomplish more for the town.

"I feel we tend to get things done," he said. "We have disagreements, but when we do, we handle them professionally. When we do have disagreements, it never leaves the room, which I find refreshing."

Having experience as an accountant has provided the board with a new perspective on the way they approach matters such as the town's budget, Federici noted.

"I think I've brought a new way of looking at things. Never being in politics before, I looked at things from a business standpoint rather than a political one," he said. "I know I've asked questions during the budget process about how we could do things differently. I can see things from a little different perspective."

Dealing with the town's budget, which features 12 different departmental budgets, remains the board's primary challenge, according to Federici.

"Obviously [the] budget is always the number one thing. I went to the Massachusetts Municipal Association meeting in January [and] they said they were estimating the governor's budget was going to increase 4 percent but in the same breath they said that 4 percent is not necessarily going to trickle down to the cities and towns in the state," he said, adding that the changes in healthcare that needed to be made also presented a major obstacle for the town.

Among the biggest concerns annually is making sure town employees are compensated in a manner that is fair to the town and the employee.

"You're always dealing with the balance of union contracts where there are built-in increases and we've got department heads who, if we had to hire somebody else, we'd be paying much more than we are right now," he said. "We have people who, because they like where they are, are willing to work with us as far as salaries."

Ultimately, however, he views the state of the town as strong.

"As far as the town itself, we seem to be in good shape. Everything revolves around the almighty dollar. Once you get the fiscal problems straightened out, everything else seems to fall into place," he said.

Federici also pointed to the new trash contract and recycling program as coups for the town.

"We rewrote the trash contract last year and we've been doing great with recycling," he said. "I think our last check for payback to the town for half a year was $32,000."

He added that the town's services are some of the best in the area and that the town must be fiscally responsible; he hopes to be able to continue funding those programs.

"[Departments] want increases and we have to walk that fine line to keep everything in line and keep our services the way they are now," he said. "We've been complimented on our Police, Fire [department], the senior center and our recreation department. Everyone seems to be happy with those departments and all the other departments that we manage."

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