The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Steuben County DPW formalizes shared services agreement with 41 towns, villages

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  • BATH | The Steuben County Department of Public Works has reached a formalized shared services agreement with 41 towns and villages within the county.
    The total annual savings to taxpayers in Steuben County is estimated at $1,154,000.
    County Public Works Commissioner Vince Spagnoletti said the agreement puts in writing many years of cooperation between the county and its local municipalities.
    "We've had a very extensive shared services program in place for years," he said.
    Spagnoletti said the goal of shared services isn't just to save money for specific towns or villages, but to save money for the community overall.
    The agreement, which lasts five years, includes sharing of equipment and services between the county DPW and towns and villages, as well as between towns and villages within the county.
    Spagnoletti noted that the town designs, builds, maintains and pays for 142 town bridges throughout the county, while the towns maintain the road surface on the bridges.
    He said his department also offers qualified engineering and construction advice to towns and villages on projects, which saves on consulting fees for engineering.
    A gravel crusher is jointly owned by the county and the towns of Cameron, Jasper, Tuscarora and Woodhull.
    In the winter, town crews also plow 114 miles of county roads, while county crews plow 67 miles of state roads. Both are reimbursed by the respective owners of the roads.
    The sharing doesn't just take place between Steuben County and towns and villages within it.
    Spagnoletti said the county's pavement striping truck is jointly owned with Schuyler and Yates counties.
    The county also shares equipment with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Transportation and Greater Southern Tier BOCES.
    The county borrows the programmable electronic message boards, used to indicate closures and other temporary changes, from Schuyler County, Spagnoletti said.
    Schuyler needs a large number of the devices during the Watkins Glen NASCAR race weekend, but makes them available to Steuben County the rest of the year if needed.
    Schuyler County also makes road signs for Steuben County in exchange for old signs to be recycled.
    Spagnoletti said the agreement isn't aimed at meeting requirements for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed property tax abatement program.
    That program, which was the centerpiece of Cuomo's State of the State and budget presentations, would give property tax relief to residents whose local governments find ways to save money through shared services or consolidation.
    Spagnoletti said the shared services agreement was in the works early in 2013, and wasn't influenced by Cuomo's more recent proposal.
    He said the programs under this deal wouldn't impact that proposal, because Cuomo's plan would only apply to new savings after it's enacted.
    Not every town and village in the county signed on to the deal. One holdout is the Town of Caton.
    Page 2 of 2 - Town Supervisor Katherine Hughes said some members of the board have concerns that the agreement could lock them into giving up some local control on issues covered by the deal.
    She said discussion on the agreement is ongoing, and would likely be a topic of discussion at their next meeting at 6 p.m. March 12 at Caton Town Hall.
    Spagnoletti said he's willing to meet with the Caton Town Board to talk about how the agreement will benefit town residents.
    Four villages, Hammondsport, North Hornell, Riverside and Savona, also haven't signed on to the deal.
    More details on the county's shared services are available online at http://www.steubencony.org/pages.asp?PID=84.
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