Small savings seen in consolidation

The final consultants’ report on potential consolidation of village and town government has “toned d
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The final consultants’ report on potential consolidation of village and town government has “toned down” discussions about shifting village police costs, but Mayor Mike Sellers said Monday he’s optimistic some other savings can be achieved.

The completed $40,000 study report by the Rochester-based Center for Governmental Research was sent to local committee members and officials late last week. The final report is expected to be posted on Web sites for the village and the center as early as today, according to CGR researcher Scott Sittig.

A public meeting to answer any remaining technical questions is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 29 at the village firehouse.

A preliminary option explored during a June 5 meeting — shifting the approximately $855,000 annual village policing cost to the county — raised concerns from Police Chief Michael O’Brien and Sheriff John Bates Jr.

“We modified [the report] a little bit about the police recommendations,” Sittig said Monday.

“The community might want to look at doing a formal study about consolidation, just to look at the Police Department all by itself,” he said.

Overall, the final report still indicates that consolidating the town and village into one township might potentially save only about $150,000 in annual administrative costs.

“But what people can take away from this is what can easily be accomplished, in the next couple of months,” Sellers said.

Among actions that might include cost savings or greater efficiency are “consolidation of town and village offices in the current [village] location, and combining planning and zoning boards,” Sellers said.

Aside from office spaces, further consolidation of highway and street administration and personnel is another anticipated action, according to both Sellers and Town Supervisor Roger Cohn.

“That will probably happen first,” Cohn said. Cohn agreed Monday that putting town offices in the current village building on Mineral Springs Road could soon be feasible.

The town’s lease with building owner Realty USA for the current town office space on state Route 7, near Interstate 88 Exit 22, expires Aug. 31. A monthly lease is being explored after that, Cohn said.

The town’s annual cost for rent and administrative supplies is about $25,000, according to the consultants’ report.

Moving town clerk, assessor and building inspector offices to village hall might then be arranged, pending town and village board approvals, he said.

While it might not save much money directly, depending on what the village charges the town, it would be more convenient and efficient for town and village residents to stop at one location, Cohn said.

Most of the potential cost savings from consolidation of governments outlined in the report relate to administrative savings, with potentially one clerk instead of both village and town positions, for example.

“The most significant drivers for the two communities are the highway departments, the police departments and water and sewer [services,]” according to the final report.

“There is very little that can be done to significantly save money with police, water and sewer by simply consolidating the two municipalities,” the CGR study found.

Reducing basic governmental administrative costs is the next best option, according to the report by consultants Sittig and Charles Zettek Jr.

“As in other communities, the savings would largely be achieved through personnel reductions and eliminating current duties that overlap.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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