New laws tighten bonds between county, towns

HUDSON–The Columbia County Board of Supervisors adopted a County-Wide Shared Services Plan at its full board meeting October 9.

The plan calls for: training members of all fire departments in the county in the “new fire tower facilities”; new “mandatory life insurances” for all fire departments, as per a law passed by the state legislature last year; and “intermunicipal agreements between the county and all towns and villages to share.”

What the county will be sharing are:

• Auditing services

• Real Property data verification and revaluation services

• The county’s planning personnel as part of an initiative to implement the Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping of property parcels

• The same Time and Attendance Application (Kronos) for employees. The county already uses Kronos, and a number of towns can use Kronos on the county’s license without having to pay for additional licenses, according to Matt Murell (R-Stockport), chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

The plan also includes two existing arrangements to reduce the cost of some employee benefit programs:

• The county’s partnership “with Ralph Benefit Advisors to… use data analytics” for various cost savings

• The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) Municipal Healthcare Financing Collective (MHFC), which helps re-insure counties for high claims.

The resolution adopting the Shared Services Plan indicates that it is expected to save the county $2,183,800 in 2019.

The new plan is the county’s second project stemming from a state law in the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget “to require the chief executive officer of each of the 57 counties outside of New York City to convene a panel of public officials to develop, publicly deliberate, and vote upon” shared services plans.

The laws and plans have “property tax savings” in their official names and, all other factors equal, property taxes can be lower with them.

Columbia County’s first Shared Services Plan, adopted September 13, 2017, called for the county, all its towns and villages, and the City of Hudson to share computer management systems, office supplies, real property data verification, human resources training and, in one case, an office building. Some of that plan’s points have already “come to fruition” and generated so much in savings that the county is expecting a check of $250,000 from the state, Mr. Murell said by phone October 24.

But the 2017 plan called for studying the possibility of moving three buildings full of county offices, together with Hudson City Hall and its offices, into the former John L. Edwards school building. Now, the City of Hudson is still evaluating whether to move into that building. But the county “studied it, and it didn’t come to fruition,” said Mr. Murell. “Now we’re studying upgrading the existing buildings,” with the help of an architectural firm the county has “contracted with.”

On a related matter, when asked for an update on Hudson’s 401 State Street, site of the county board chambers and other county offices, where some employees experienced flea bites between July and September of this year, Mr. Murell replied, “We haven’t had a complaint in a few weeks. Everything seems fine.”

The Board of Elections is still in temporary quarters. But their room—where the problem has been judged to originate—is being completely refurnished and recarpeted over the winter.

The next meeting of the full Columbia County Board of Supervisors will be Wednesday, November 13, at 7:30 p.m., at 401 State Street, Hudson.

No word yet on new City Hall

WILL HUDSON MOVE its city offices into the John L. Edwards building? No decision has been made, nothing has been finalized, two Hudson aldermen said October 24.

“We’re still working on it,” determining, “how we can fit in” and “how we can get money,” said Alderman Dewan Sarowar (D-2nd Ward).

“It’s still in preliminary stages,” said Alderman Calvin Lewis (D-3rd Ward). “The architects have reported that the building is in great condition,” he said of the closed school building.

The firm of Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson conducted a feasibility study, including the price of various configurations, and presented the results in September.

“They have done a great job in presenting it to the community,” Mr. Lewis said. “Now, we have to see if the space will accommodate city offices and their needs.”–Jeanette Wolfberg

Comments are closed.