Officials from the town and village of Saugerties met Feb. 20 to discuss sharing services and possibly merging the village Department of Public Works and town Highway Department. The meeting represented the first formal discussion of consolidation between town and village officials since the successful merger of the police departments in 2011.
The town department has a budget of $2.7 million and the village $743,000; the town 126 miles of roads, the village 14. Both departments are responsible for road upkeep and snowplowing. The village department provides several services the town does not, including street-sweeping, spring and fall curbside pickup of leaves and other lawn debris, holiday decorations and assistance to water and sewer departments.
Village officials stressed that the discussions were in a very early phase. Village Mayor William Murphy said the possibilities include shared services and possibly “smart consolidation down the road.” He said two conditions would be necessary for consolidation: That no one lost their job and no services currently enjoyed by village taxpayers were cut.
“There is no timetable and no plan, we are just seeing if it makes sense,” said Murphy. “At a minimum, we want to look at where we can share services to save all money. Again, there is not even a plan formulated or a timetable and we have only had one meeting with the town to see what options are out there, if any.”
Trustee Vince Buono said the discussions were not a reaction to recent editorials in Saugerties Times calling for consolidation to be considered.
“This is not because of what was written in the paper.”