County right to study idea

Municipal water and sewer services are important factors for development in Fulton County.

However, access to those services outside of the municipalities that provide them often requires a lot of meetings and deal-making among elected officials. The time it takes for all that to happen can hinder growth and stifle our local economy.

Fulton County is taking a smart step in studying whether to combine the various municipal water and sewer services into one county operation.

However, a lot of questions will need to be answered and many details worked out before people can make an informed decision on whether to support this type of consolidation.

It’s easy to understand why the county is pursuing the idea: Having the county provide the services could kick growth into high gear in the area.

The challenge the county faces is striking a deal everyone can accept.

There are six municipal water systems in the county: in the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown; in the villages of Broadalbin, Mayfield and Northville; and at Sacandaga Park in the town of Northampton. There are five municipal wastewater operations: the two cities, the villages of Broadalbin and Mayfield, and Sacandaga Park.

No municipal officials will support giving the county control of their local water or sewer services if there is no benefit to their city, village or town. In addition, no county residents will want to pay for water or sewer services that do not serve them.

It may take years for the county to study the issue and come up with a plan that satisfies all involved. But even if the idea is rejected, the county is right to consider its options. The status quo is not working as well as it should.

We advise county officials to keep local municipal leaders – and the public – well aware of what’s going on. The mayors of the Glove Cities both said they had not heard about the proposal until a Leader-Herald reporter called and asked them about it Monday. A lack of communication could kill the idea before it even gets off the ground.