Shared services plan ready for state

Members of the Fulton County Shared Services Panel approve the county's state Shared Services Plan Wednesday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Shared Services Panel on Wednesday unanimously approved the county’s state-mandated 2018 Shared Services Plan, which will be forwarded to the state by Friday.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead, who led the panel’s “procedural” final session at the County Office Building, said the plan will go to the state Division of the Budget.

The city of Gloversville, and villages of Broadalbin and Northville, were absent at Wednesday’s meeting. The village of Mayfield never came to several Shared Services Panel meetings this year, Stead said. He said Mayfield was considered a non-participant in the process.

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King couldn’t be reached this morning for comment.

Stead said two main “nucleus” elements agreed to by the panel — consisting of officials from throughout Fulton County — were a future tax collection software sharing initiative and an LED lighting replacement project. Stead noted how the final plan indicates nearly $150,000 in savings across the county over a two-year period. Savings are estimated at $81,278 for 2019 and $66,278 for 2020.

“I think if we stick together with the LED lighting, I think we’re going to see dramatic savings across the town budgets,” Stead said.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Aug. 13 conducted two public hearings on a draft version of the 2018 Shared Services Plan, and approved the draft plan.

New York state last year mandated that counties form shared services panels to discuss ways to save money, and submit a plan to the state showing how money could be saved by intermunicipal sharing of services. The Fulton County Shared Services Panel decided in August 2017 to give itself an extra year to find taxpayer savings and file its shared services plan with New York state in 2018.

Stead noted Wednesday that the state Department of State mandated that Wednesday’s final vote on the plan be a roll call vote, and the panel had a quorum. He said the state also required each voter say something publicly while voting on the plan.

“It will end up being savings for everyone’s towns, villages and the city,” said Johnstown Mayor Vern Jackson. “It’s worthwhile.”

Broadalbin Supervisor Sheila Perry said she was “excited” about the Shared Services Plan, calling it a “good start.”

“We looked at the opportunity and immediately saw tremendous savings for us,” said Caroga Supervisor James Selmser.

Ephratah Supervisor Todd Bradt called the plan “better than nothing.”

“Consolidation is a good thing and definitely the way of the future,” said Johnstown Town Supervisor Jack Wilson.

Other comments included Mayfield Town Supervisor Rick Argotsinger alluding to a “good plan” being forwarded by the county, and Northampton Supervisor James Groff, touting the “savings.”

Oppenheim Supervisor Cynthia Breh noted her town’s street lights went off 12 years ago, but the LED plan affords an opportunity to get them back on.

Stratford Supervisor Allicia Rice said the plan is “helpful” to Fulton County’s municipalities.

“It’s not always easy for small towns to find savings,” she said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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