Every Little Bit Helps
In a time of tight finances and complex political situations, shared services allow towns and villages to get more for less.
According to Jesse Robbins, town of Busti supervisor, Busti shares various services with villages and towns including Lakewood, Kiantone, Harmony and North Harmony.
“Economically, this is better for everyone,” Robbins said. “We are also in the first steps of sharing a code officer with Lakewood, which should happen by this summer.”
Busti does not share garbage services, opting instead for a transfer station for residents. Busti does share town courts and a recreational center with Lakewood, as well as plow routes.
“The town of Busti and the village of Lakewood – we need both to keep the police department a proper size,” Robbins said, referencing the shared police force with Lakewood.
According to Robbins, Busti also co-owns a paver with Kiantone.
“This way, we can do a lot more with less money,” Robbins said. “We can pave miles of road instead of just 1 mile.”
“As far as blacktopping goes, we are getting more done for less money. We’re not sending a bill to Kiantone when we help them, and they don’t send a bill to us when they help – we just share,” Robbins said.
Robbins said there is a difference between sharing services and consolidating services.
“At some point, you run out of things to consolidate,” he said, noting that it is no longer effective at that point.
“The town of Busti and the village of Lakewood are doing very well together,” Robbins said. “We do things together that people don’t even realize.”
Donald Emhardt, town of Chautauqua supervisor, said that Chautauqua has been sharing services for many years.
“We share a water district with the village of Mayville and we have another water district with Chautauqua Utility District,” Emhardt said. “We also share a recycling program and the summer recreational program with Mayville.”
Emhardt added that the town of Chautauqua shares the Concert in the Park series with the Mayville/Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce.
“We also share a lot of road services and heavy equipment with the village of Mayville,” he said.
Emhardt explained that Chautauqua County has a shared services plan where towns and villages can share tools and road crews to complete large projects.
“It isn’t unusual to see many different town trucks on a town road projects using the county’s stone spreader,” Emhardt said. “We will continue to do this because it helps everyone in the county and saves money in the long run.”
According to Emhardt, there are three fire districts and two fire protection districts within the town of Chautauqua.
“Through mutual aid, these fire districts share equipment and manpower,” he said. “During the day, it isn’t unusual to see an ambulance crew made up of three or four different departments’ personnel.”
“I have to believe that (sharing) saves the town money because we don’t have to commit all of the town’s resources to one project,” Emhardt said, adding that the town plans to continue sharing services. “It also saves every town from buying all of the very expensive road equipment to repave the roads in all of the towns.”
According to Timothy Smith, Westfield town clerk, Westfield is also currently involved with shared services.
“The town of Westfield shares several services with the village of Westfield, in addition to neighboring towns and villages,” Smith said. “Shared services with the village include police protection, fire protection, dog control, assessor services, water and sewer services where available and office space within Eason Hall.”
Smith said that Westfield also shares highway services and equipment with the village of Westfield, the town of Portland, the town of Ripley and the county.
Westfield has reviewed and renewed shared services agreements through 2014, with plans to continue sharing in the future.
“Our experiences have been extremely positive,” Smith said. “There are savings with shared services.”