If village of Saugerties trustee Don Hackett gets his way, there will be no merging of the village Department of Public Works and the town Highway Department.
In response to concerns about merger talk expressed by village resident Bill Schirmer (uncle of the town councilman of that name), Hackett had this to say:
“The only time the town officials want to do something is if it benefits the town.”
Schirmer said if the DPW and Highway Department merge, “village residents would lose services like [they have] with the merger of the police departments.”
Schirmer said that since the police merger four years ago, “You don’t see as many police in the village as you once did, and they aren’t doing anything to stop the speeders on Market St.”
He said a state trooper sat on Market St. near the senior center one day and in a short time span issued 12 speeding tickets, one of which was for a motorist traveling at 52 miles an hour on the 30 mph road.
Mayor William Murphy said trustees are aware of the speeding problem and when the weather warms up, the DPW will be installing a three-way stop sign at the intersection of Market and Prospect streets to slow traffic down.
Murphy said trustees “fear that someday the state will mandate the merging of the village and the town,” so both governing bodies are exploring sharing of services.
One of the things being looked at in sharing the DPW and Highway Department, Murphy said, is to keep both departments but have them overseen by one supervisor. “The town would run it,” Murphy said.
DPW superintendent Robert Ciarlante is retiring in May and trustees believe this might be the best time to consider such a move.
“We are looking at where we can save money while still maintaining services,” Murphy said. “This would not take services away from the village.”
One idea for sharing involves building a repair garage on village land on North St. and staffing it with two mechanics, one from the town and one from the village. It would be their job to repair village and town vehicles, rather than both municipalities having to send them out to be fixed.
One recent whopper of a repair bill was $18,000 for the street sweeper. The idea beyond having mechanics on staff would be to avoid such a thing.
Murphy said it’s the board’s responsibility to try to save residents money and sharing services might be the best way to go.
But Hackett was adamant that there be no merging of the departments or possibly sharing of services.
“A couple of years ago we went to the town and asked if they wanted to merge the water and waste water departments and they didn’t want to have anything to do with it,” Hackett said.
“This is something that really ticks me off,” he added.
Terry Parisian, who is the trustee liaison to the DPW, said one thing the village might want to look at is jointly purchasing road salt with the town because the town has a large new storage facility while the village has a much smaller shed.
Murphy said discussions will continue with town officials but as of now nothing is close to being worked out.
“It’s still in the early stages,” he said.