Plan for shared services released

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Shared Services Panel has publicly released its proposed 2018 Shared Services Plan and set three public hearings, the first one of which is scheduled for Thursday.

The panel on Friday released a 26-page draft Shared Services Plan, with additonal report pages as supplemental data that will eventually be sent to the state in some form. It contains recommendations and information for possible shared services in Fulton County for up to the next 10 years.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead authored the report, assisted in research by several other county officials.

Board of Supervisors Chairman James Groff, also panel chairman, said today the county has already gotten a good start on SMART Waters initiatives that are underway. But he said longer-range planning for that and involving other municipal sharing is very tough.

“It’s so hard to get people to change the way they do things,” Groff said.

Hearings related to the draft report were set for 3 p.m. Thursday; 2 p.m. Aug. 13; and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 13. The public hearings are all slated to be held in the Fulton County Supervisors’ Chambers, second floor room 201 at the County Office Building, 223 W. Main St.

New York state has 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 in August 2017 decided to give itself an extra year to find taxpayer savings and file its shared services plan with New York state in 2018.

Fulton County was one of 16 counties that deferred to this year.

The draft plan released Friday discusses possible action with these areas over the next decade: contract assessing, SMART Waters regional water and wastewater system, tax collection-software sharing and LED lighting replacement. Other longer-range efforts may include garbage collection, cities’ police departments integration, cities’ fire departments integration, contract tax collection, county managed water and sewer districts, county central highway department, countywide police force, county assessing department formation.

The draft plan says the goal of contract assessing is to form a “valuation unit” as a branch of the existing Fulton County Real Property Tax Services Agency. This service would be available to local cities and towns, at their option, via multi-year contracting with Fulton County.

If all 12 municipalities with their 33,829 parcels within the county were to join the contract approach, about $483,000 would be needed to fund a fully-staffed unit that could be attained with a chargeback fee of $14.50 per parcel.

A goal for SMART Waters is to create a regional system within Fulton County to coordinate water service and wastewater treatment services to promote land development economy growth in the community.

“Over time, efficiencies will accumulate from utilizing the professional operation and maintenance provided by local government departments rather than launching county-level agencies to administer regional water services and regional wastewater treatment services,” the draft plan says.

Estimated final savings were put at $29.6 million, the report states.

Tax collection software sharing’s goal is to establish “collaboration” between county government and local tax collecting jurisdictions, the draft plan says.

LED lighting replacement is an initiative that has already been in a pre-planning phase, with data packets being sent to municipal leaders within the county to solicit necessary inventory data for use by the New York Power Authority in preparing a pricing proposal.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at