Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson (center) and Deputy Supervisor Vinnie Crocitto (center left) grin as Lake George Mayor Robert Blais hands them a pen to sign a new comprehensive shared services agreement during a rare joint board meeting held Feb. 10.
Leaders of the town and village of Lake George signed an agreement recently to consolidate some of their municipal operations — a move which is expected to improve services while saving taxpayers some cash.
The one-year memorandum of understanding turns over the town’s Caldwell Sewer District operations to the village, while the town assumes responsibility for mowing and maintaining some village parks and properties — plus managing the lifeguard duties for both municipalities’ beaches. The agreement, effective May 1, was inked on Feb. 10 by board members of the town and village in a rare joint meeting.
The success of the collaboration is to be reviewed in six months, allowing the town and village to renegotiate terms.
“This will not only save each municipality cash but it will also increase and improve services,” village Mayor Robert Blais said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
The agreement calls for a renegotiation in 2015, with the expectation that it will be renewed for an additional three-year term.
Blais said the agreement was pursued in part to take advantage of the potential tax benefits that Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed to reward municipalities that consolidate services.
“We’ll be looking at several other opportunities for consolidation in the next two years, bringing our town and village together as close as we can,” Blais said at the meeting.
The town is to hire and manage the lifeguards that will staff the village’s Shepard Park Beach as well as their own Ushers Park beach and Diamond Point Beach.
The village, however, is to continue to maintain the beach, furnish equipment, and pay the salary of the lifeguards on duty there.
Town employees are to mow and maintain the lawns at Shepard Park, the Village Hall, the Lake George firehouse property, the Lakefront Walkway, MacDonald Park, a lot on James Street and the village Recreation Center off Transfer Station Road — all village-owned properties, at no cost to the village.
In return, the village is to maintain, operate, inspect and repair the pump stations, collection lines and transmission mains of the town-owned Caldwell Sewer District, which transports sewage to the village sewer treatment plant. While such work accomplished on regular working hours will not be billed to the town, overtime labor that’s approved in advance will be the town’s responsibility to pay. Also, the town will be continuing to pay for the cost of parts, fixtures, equipment and service contracts for the sewer district.
On the other hand, the village employees — primarily Judy Gearwar — will be providing the town advice and work in maintaining existing flower beds and gardens as well as creating new ones. Gearwar has received regional acclaim for her decorative gardens in the village, and town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said he was happy that his municipality would be receiving the benefits of her expertise, and she’d likely be collaborating with town board member Marisa Muratori, also known for her beautification efforts. Gearwar is to continue to be an employee of the town.
Dickinson predicted that Gearwar and Muratori and other town employees would be achieving considerable aesthetic accomplishments as they collaborate on the upcoming Exit 21 Lake George Gateway Corridor project, which calls for extensive landscaping and a new green median in the middle of Rte. 9 leading into the village.
“This is a great thing for both the town and village, and we’ve worked long and hard for it,” Dickinson said. “And we have bigger and better things down the road.”