Sometimes cooperation among communities can be a simple one-to-one exchange – ‘We share a service that we’re both doing anyway as a way to becoming more efficient and saving our respective taxpayers money.’
Sometimes they can be as complete as merging or dissolving communities, as voters in Fort Johnson did earlier this month by voting to become part of the town of Amsterdam.
And sometimes they require a greater degree of complex, out-of-the-box, long-term thinking.
These deals are more difficult than many others to arrange because they involve a lot of moving parts in multiple governmental jurisdictions that all must fall into place so all that all the communities involved can benefit.
So give officials in Amsterdam, Johnstown and Gloversville credit for being willing to undertake a cooperative agreement that would allow Amsterdam’s sewer sludge to be processed at the jointly operated Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility and make potential use of new equipment that could save all three communities a significant amount of money in waste disposal costs.
Communities that have the capacity to accept another community’s waste can save money by having their plants operate more efficiently and at fuller capacity, while also helping their taxpayers by charging for the services.
Their municipal customers, in turn, save the expense of shipping their waste long distances or of building their own treatment plants.
Such an agreement between Amsterdam, Johnstown and Gloversville will involve not only determining whether the joint plant has the ability to process the type of waste that Amsterdam needs to treat, but also whether the new drying equipment has the ability and capacity to handle a third community’s waste, how much savings the three communities can gain by reducing the volume of waste they pay to dump treated sludge at a landfill, how much financial help might be available from the state for both upgrades and consolidation services, how much Amsterdam would have to contribute to upgrades for the new equipment to handle its waste, and anticipating limitations that might be placed on such a deal should the state change the regulations regarding treatment of such waste.
A feasibility study being prepared for Amsterdam has the potential to demonstrate how the use of the plant could save taxpayers in all three communities a significant amount of money.
This is exactly the kind of arrangement the state should be supporting. The state should ensure that Amsterdam has access to funds set aside for government consolidation efforts and provide whatever technical, legal and administrative assistance it can to all three communities to ease the path to completion. Whatever issues, problems and benefits the communities learn of could serve as a blueprint for other communities to follow.
We’ve long advocated for consolidation and sharing of services whenever possible.
Let’s hope this feasibility study pans out and sets these communities on a fast track to helping each other and their taxpayers.