By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — SHELBY — The process of finding potential paths for cost-savings through shared services has been a slow-moving one for the informal committee of Medina, Ridgeway and Shelby officials, but some of the proposals discussed Monday could soon bear fruit.
Representatives from each municipal board and local highway and water departments met Monday at Shelby Town Hall to discuss their ideas for shared services and review recommendations made in 2011 by a citizen’s committee.
Some ideas were agreed to be non-starters, but several will be investigated further before the informal committee meets again Jan. 7. When the committee resumes its talks, they will have more information on the estimated costs on several proposals.
Shelby Supervisor Skip Draper said he’d look into the tax impacts of shifting the costs of highway snowplowing to residents outside the village. That idea, and the village potentially abandoning its plowing operation, are both legally possible, but the gulf between village and town priorities is to far to bridge at this point.
”Is there recognition that it’s a problem,” asked Meier about what he said was a double- or triple-tax for highway plowing on villagers.
”The towns recognize it, but the village is duplicated (in services) by choice,” Draper responded.
The village also left the meeting with homework. Meier said he’d come up with a proposal for Medina, which has a part-time employee whose responsibility is to perform mandatory fire-safety inspections, to contract out that service to the towns.
”It’s a service delivery enhancement,” Meier said.
Monday’s meeting had an added layer of expertise and knowledge due to the presence of Ridgeway Highway Superintendent Mark Goheen, Medina Department of Public Works Superintendent Pete Houseknecht and a number of highway department employees.
The new voices brought their own cost-saving suggestions. Houseknecht proposed that a joint-application for grant funding to purchase and install radio water meter systems would be beneficial in each municipality.
”It’s an expensive venture, but we could do it jointly,” said Houseknecht, who estimated that implementation would cost $900,000. The final product would have measurable benefits in manpower and time savings and a sped up response to leaks. “Reading the meters and repairs take one of our guys eight to ten days a month, this would take 15 minutes and pinpoint leaks.”
Each municipality is in the process of moving the meters, which can be monitored off-site, but the costs of fully integrating their system have kept those efforts from advancing beyond the starting stage. Shelby has about a quarter of their meters installed, both Ridgeway and Medina are at about five percent installed.
Among the issues discarded Monday were having one municipality take over water billing services from the others. All three municipalities use different software systems. A proposal to share snow watch services was also shot down due to the necessary amount of manpower needed to survey if roads need to be cleared.
”It’s not feasible to check from Lyndonville to the swamps,” Goheen explained. “We not just looking for snow, it’s wind and ice.”Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.