By MORGAN FRISCH
Recorder News Staff
FONDA — Chief elected officials unanimously approved the County-Wide Shared Service Plan Tuesday.
A total of 13 members of the shared-services panel attended the vote in the Montgomery County Annex Building. The panel consists of the mayor of each city or village and the supervisor of each town in the county, according to the state.
Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort made one clarification before the vote.
“At this point, we are supporting the plan, we are supporting moving forward with the plan,” he said. “Anything that is in there obviously will take additional action to enact and implement moving forward. This allows us to move forward.”
Several of the county-wide initiatives in the shared service plan include court consolidation, county department consolidation, electronic records management, assessment and a consolidated repair facility. There is also discussion of the potential dissolution of the Village of Canajoharie into the town and law enforcement consolidation.
Before Tuesday’s vote three public hearings regarding the plan took place throughout the county. Municipalities also previously passed non-binding resolutions related to services in the plan that could impact them.
“This is just saying OK, we agree to this plan and we are going to continue moving forward with pieces of it,” Ossenfort said. “Quite frankly, the biggest thing for me and why I want to make sure that we get the plan adopted is because one of the things that is going to be very straight forward is our consolidation of mental health and public health departments.
“If we approve this plan tonight that has already been included in my budget, the savings are very black and white. That is going to be eligible for a match, that is almost $100,000 for the county next year.”
Plans that create actual savings may be eligible for a one-time match of the net savings through the shared services plan.
“There’s really a lot to lose and if we don’t support it there’s nothing really to gain because you still have the ability to implement or not implement based on your governing board on the issues for your respected municipalities,” Ossenfort said.
There was a roll call vote of the shared services panel attendees.
Village of Fort Plain Mayor Thomas Quackenbush voted in support of the plan as presented.
“I believe that we have an opportunity, especially in the western end of Montgomery County specifically Canajoharie and the Beech Nut site, to move forward,” Quackenbush said. “I think we would be remiss if we didn’t at least look at it and continue on that path.”
Canajoharie Mayor Francis E. Avery said he voted yes, as per instruction of the majority of his board.
“But that will indicate their acceptance that the understanding that this agreement is non-binding,” he said.
Ames Village Mayor Michael McMahon said he agreed with his colleague from Fort Plain.
“There’s opportunities here and we certainly want to exhaust and explore those.”
Fonda Mayor William Peeler said he voted yes for future endeavors in broadening the base of shared services.
“I think there are lots of things that have not been explored yet and there are a lot of great opportunities for the future,” he said.
Fort Johnson Mayor Kenneth Walter said he voted yes for the projected cost savings presented in the original proposals.
Town of Minden Supervisor Cheryl Reese said her board passed all the resolutions that were presented to them in relation to the plan and they look forward to exploring the savings opportunities this plan could bring.
There needs to be a public presentation of the plan by Oct. 15. It will then be forwarded to the state.
“I really appreciate everybody working together on this,” Ossenfort said. “It has gotten the discussion going which is a big first step.”