Stead gives update on shared services

Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead, standing, gives a presentation on the county's final Shared Services Plan to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday received the final presentation on the county’s 2018 Shared Services Plan, which was recently submitted to the state.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead, who mainly authored the plan, gave a report on the proposal at the County Office Building. The plan went to the state in September.

“This completes the process itself,” he said.

He was assisted in research for the plan by: legislative aide Elizabeth Lathers, planning consultant James Mraz, solid waste consultant Jeffrey Bouchard, county Solid Waste Director David Rhodes, Planning Director Scott Henze, Real Property Tax Services Agency Director Peter Galarneau and county Treasurer Terry Blodgett.

“One of the requirements of the New York state shared services mandate legislation is to require a public presentation,” Stead told the board.

Stead noted that 2017 state budget legislation included a new initiative designed to generate property tax savings by facilitating operational collaboration between local governments. Each county had to establish a Shared Services Panel chaired by the county’s chief executive officer. Fulton County’s panel had 14 members, with the goal of developing and approving a countywide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Plan.

The state indicated plans that create actual and demonstrable property tax savings are eligible for a one-time state match.

Fulton County’s panel consisted of: Board of Supervisors Chairman James Groff, Bleecker Supervisor David Howard, Broadalbin Supervisor Sheila Perry, Caroga Supervisor James Selmser, Ephratah Supervisor Todd Bradt, Johnstown Town Supervisor Jack Wilson, Mayfield Supervisor Richard Argotsinger, Oppenheim Supervisor Cynthia Breh, Perth Supervisor Gregory Fagan, Stratford Supervisor Allicia Rice, Gloversville Mayor Dayton King, Johnstown Mayor Vern Jackson, Broadalbin Mayor Larry Cornell and Northville Mayor John Spaeth.

“Almost all of the municipalities participated one way or another,” Stead said.

He said there was no participation from the village of Mayfield.

Stead said the heart of the 2018 Shared Services Plan, covering the next couple years and thereafter are: Tax collection — software sharing, and LED lighting replacement.

Fulton County’s estimated savings for the software sharing is $16,000 in 2019. Annual savings for the LED lighting project was put at $65,278 for 2019 and about the same thereafter.

“Many municipalities across New York state are looking hard at it,” Stead said of LED project. “We will be pursuing an LED lighting project. I think it’s going to be tremendous savings in the long run.”

He said a member of the New York Power Authority will be giving a second presentation to the supervisors.

Stead said a proposed Contract Assessing Valuation Unit was included in the plan, but only for its “efficiency” benefits. He said there was not much support from the towns or cities for the unit.

“There was actually no way to show property tax savings,” he said.

Fulton County’s SMART Waters Regional Water/Wastewater System was also included, with its eventual $29.6 million in savings.

“We threw that into motion about five years ago,’ Stead said. “We really are looking at saving nearly $30 million in cost avoidances.”

On the LED project, Stead added: “It’s my understanding the two cities are ahead of this process.”

Stead noted the last part of the plan includes “advisory” recommendations for the next five years, and the period of five to 10 years.

The next five years calls for at least a look at savings through: garbage collection sharing, integration of police and fire departments, contract tax collection, and county-managed water and sewer districts.

On garbage collection, Stead stated: “We did have a subcommittee meeting on it.”

The five to 10-year period recommends: county central highway department, a countywide police force and formation of a county assessing department.

With the highway department, Stead said the thought is to have “satellite stations.”

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