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County shared services panel may meet this year

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Shared Services Panel will probably meet again sometime this year to review any progress made last year on the county’s state-mandated 2018 Shared Services Plan, an official said.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said Wednesday that at “some point” in 2019, each New York state county will have to pull together their panels and review past progress.

He said that for Fulton County, that may occur in late spring or summer.

Stead said the top tax-saving plan recommendation that Fulton County’s municipalities have and will probably address immediately relates to LED lighting replacement. Some municipalities are looking at replacing municipal building lights or street lights.

“The primary project that has the most savings is the LED project,” Stead said.

New York in 2017 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.

That panel last September unanimously approved the county’s 2018 Shared Services Plan, which it forwarded to the state. Stead said at the time that the 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.

Stead said this week that some of Fulton County’s municipalities most immediately interested in LED savings include the towns of Caroga and Broadalbin and the village of Northville. He said the county remains involved in the shared services process.

“We continue to try to coordinate between the towns,” he said.

New York Power Authority representative Jessica Waldorf gave a presentation on LED lighting to the Caroga Town Board in December.

Stead said that the way the process works for an LED project is that National Grid has to receive interest from the individual municipalities. Once the participant requests information, he said NYPA gets involved with public presentations. He said the town of Stratford has also shown interest.

“We are helping coordinate through the NYPA,” Stead said.

He said that during the first quarter of 2019, some of the county’s municipalities may be to the point of entering contracts.

Stead said that since the Shared Services Plan was mandated, the state has “relaxed” some of the requirements. But he said LED savings may realistically continue to lead plan efforts.

“I think that’s what we’re going to look at for 2019,” he said.

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

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