Sharing Services to Save Taxpayers Money

By Kiersten Mathieu

July 22, 2010 Updated May 2, 2006 at 11:56 PM EDT

For nearly a year, leaders in the Town of Union, Endicott and Johnson City have talked about sharing more services to save their taxpayers money.

But, now they believe the only real way to share is to become one.

They've always shared their trucks and road equipment, but the leaders of Endicott, Johnson City and the Town of Union have bigger dreams when it comes to sharing services.

They want to merge their courts, parks, street maintenance and more.

"You'd love to just wave a wand and say there you have it," said Union Town Supervisor John Bernardo.

But since they don't have it yet, tax bills are going up again.

Endicott's by nearly three percent and Johnson City's by almost nine percent.

The Town of Union Supervisor says developing shared services takes time.

"It's complicated in that you have to collect the proper amount of data because you’re dealing with three separate, unique governments," says Bernardo.

But instead of three separate governments, Endicott Mayor Joan Hickey Pulse, says ‘what about becoming one?’

"We would be much better off by doing that, because if it would save money. That's the bottom line: if it’s going to save money. But you would have a bigger base to work from. We'd be eligible for more funding," said Hickey Pulse.

Johnson City's mayor Harry Lewis says also thinks more about consolidation.

"It's getting to the point that maybe it’s something that's going to be forced. If the village wants to dissolve, of course then we'll have to go the taxpayers," says Mayor Lewis.

If the villages wanted to dissolve into the Town of Union, a plan must be presented and then would go for a vote.

If taxpayers voted yes, a final consolidation could take at least five years.

One shared services plan is taking the next step in a few weeks.

The Town of Union will propose taking over Endicott and Johnson City parks.

Bernardo says it could save the villages hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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