By Rick Miller

Officials representing 30 municipalities across Cattaraugus County met March 7 in Little Valley to celebrate what has turned out to be a profitable venture into shared services.

County officials tallied nearly $1 million in savings for municipalities over the past year which is being submitted to the state for certification. The county, cities, towns and villages will share half the savings. 

The meeting in the County Legislature chambers on the third floor of the County Center here culminated two years of municipal shared services with the county and each other.

Cattaraugus County Administrator Jack Searles and the late County Legislature Chairman Paula Stockman were co-chairmen of the Shared Services municipal group. The first of several county-wide meetings was held two years ago. The first year was spent developing shared services. This past year was spent turning the proposals of the Shared Services Committee into real savings.

Deputy County Administrator Kelly Reed ran the meeting in Searles’ absence. He was unable to attend.

Reeds said shared services last year resulted in $930,000 in actual savings across the county. The committee had initially estimated savings as high as $1.2 million. 

In order to submit the savings to the state, 23 city and village mayors and town supervisors had to attend last week’s meeting for a quorum. The 30 in attendance was more than sufficient.

Reed said only six municipalities have been ruled ineligible for their initial shared services claims. They are the towns of South Valley, Red House, South Dayton and Ischua and the village of Franklinville.

“Each municipality that completed the shared services will get back 50 percent of the savings approved by the state,” Reed said. “For the first year, I think we accomplished a lot.”

Searles will reach out to the municipalities in the coming months to continue the shared services efforts.

Reed said the largest portion of shared services involved the county Public Works Department, which offered parts to municipal highway departments at cost. 

Another Public Works shared services program involves equipment. The county maintains a program that tracks equipment available for sharing with towns.

“We’ll probably reconvene the municipalities this summer to keep the shared services programs going,” Reed said. The state plans to continue to reward municipalities that save taxpayers money by investing in shared services.