Saugerties town officials: Road dept. merger “inevitable”

snow-plow-truck-HZTMerging town and village of Saugerties services was done successfully several years ago when the village police department was folded into the town’s, and Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel and town Highway Department Superintendent Myer believe that “it’s inevitable” the village’s Department of Public Works will be folded into the town’s Highway Department.

Village Mayor William Murphy is not so sure. “We’ve run the numbers and it doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Speaking prior to being administered the oath of office at the town’s Jan. 1 meeting, both Helsmoortel and Myer indicated that such a merger would be good for both the town and village taxpayers.

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“We’re willing to sit down with village officials at any time to negotiate merging the two departments,” Helsmoortel said. “The state has encouraged municipalities to share or merge services where they can, and has been providing money for such ventures, as it did when we merged the two police departments.”

Murphy admitted the recently agreed upon shared services agreement with the DPW and Highway Department “might be a prelude to merging the departments,” but added that he has no idea if or when it might happen.

“But the two departments have always worked together, and the agreement is working now,” he said.

Helsmoortel, on the other hand, believes the shared services agreement gives both municipalities the perfect framework to begin negotiating a merger.

“Economically it’s the way to go, especially with the state making money available to prepare a study,” he said.