JOHNSTOWN - Fulton and Montgomery counties could share a joint director of community services next year, and officials say that would save taxpayers money.
The Fulton County Community Services Board recently voted to pursue a joint director of community services position for both Fulton and Montgomery counties.
An informational update on the personnel issue was detailed by Fulton County Director of Community Services Ernest Gagnon for the Fulton County Board of Supervisors' Human Services Committee on Tuesday at the Fulton County Office Building.
The Fulton County Community Services Board is a volunteer board overseeing the various counseling agencies in the county.
Gagnon has held the director position for many years.
His position serves as a liaison to that board.
He also serves as the director of the Fulton County Mental Health Department.
But the Mental Health Department basically ceased to exist after the county shut down its two Gloversville-based mental health clinics in the beginning of 2012.
The clinics were taken over by St. Mary's Healthcare.
Despite that development, the state still requires counties to have a director of community services position in place and filled.
Gagnon told the committee that Montgomery County's most recent Director of Community Services, James Gumaer, is "technically" retired and working part-time.
He said the Fulton County Community Services Board recently approved a motion to pursue a joint director of community services position for both Fulton and Montgomery counties, effective Jan. 1, 2014.
The Montgomery County Community Services Board is considering the proposal after discussing it at an April meeting, said Gagnon, who may be in line to serve both counties.
Gagnon said the proposal would be subject to approval by both counties' boards of supervisors and community services boards.
"It would save approximately 15 percent of each county's budget," Gagnon said.
He told the committee he would have more statistical information on savings at the panel's next meeting May 28.
Gagnon said Gumaer contacted the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors "to move forward with it, as well."
He said the numbers of caseloads of both counties match up well, although some agencies such as Gloversville's Family Counseling Center, overlap both counties.
"They're fairly similar," Gagnon said. "Both counties are about the same size. At times [Montgomery County] has a more diverse population, a Hispanic population."
Preferably, Gagnon said the counties will make a decision on sharing one position by June.
That's when Fulton County departments have to submit their proposed budgets for 2014.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.