MORIAH — Finding more ways to share services with other municipalities is a priority in the Town of Moriah, according to Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava.
He was glad to hear Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushing shared services in his State of the State address recently.
“The governor is offering incentives to municipalities for sharing services, which is something we started doing long ago,” the supervisor said.
Scozzafava said the town took over the police department, justice court and assessors from the Village of Port Henry long ago.
“The town and village each had a police department, which we consolidated into one department in 1993. The village now pays a share of the cost of the police force, and the town maintains it.”
The town and village also agreed to a joint wastewater treatment plant, he said.
“A huge amount of money is saved by doing that. It’s worked extremely well for the town and village. Having more (utility) users doesn’t necessarily increase your costs.”
The town also took over the Youth Program from the village and supports a Town Health Center in Mineville that covers both municipalities.
“It’s all one community,” Scozzafava said. “There’s much more that can be done with shared services, I believe.”
PLOWING AT SCHOOL
The town is also sharing services with Moriah Central School District, Scozzafava said, including snow removal.
“We go in and plow, lay down sand, and in return the town can use the school for various functions.”
The new Linney Field playground is also being shared by the town and School District, he said, and both are maintaining it.
Essex County agencies like Public Works are also a big help to the town, he said.
“Essex County does so much for municipalities, it’s hard to even make a list: highway work, bridge work, trash transfer stations.”
Scozzafava said one controversial consolidation of services in Moriah would involve the three fire departments within the municipality.
“The big one, in my opinion, is the fire departments. There’s going to come a time when we have to sit down and talk about consolidating the fire departments. A town-wide fire district would save money and consolidate services.”
Moriah and Mineville-Witherbee departments each have fire districts that set annual budgets, from which property tax rates are created.
Port Henry Fire Department is owned by the village and its operations are part of village taxes.
In the past, any mention of merging fire departments in Moriah has been met with opposition, Scozzafava said, so getting agreement on a plan would be difficult.
But one money-saving merger that could take place soon is creating a town department of public works that would consolidate highway, water, sewer and the buildings-and-grounds departments, Scozzafava said.
“We’re looking at that right now. It’s a big step.”
He said the next step is to hold an informational meeting for citizens.
“Then the town board would decide. We could do it by local law.”
The elected town highway superintendent would be head of the new department, he said.
“The whole key to making a DPW work is the individual. Jamie Wilson has done an excellent job as highway superintendent. I feel he could handle the new duties.”
They’ve held discussions with Wilson about the DPW idea, he said, and everything was positive.
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