QUEENSBURY — Warren County taxpayers will likely save more than $1.8 million over the next three years as the county and the municipalities within it look to purchase and improve streetlights across the county.
Purchasing the lights and installing LED bulbs should bring increasing savings each year going forward, with a “conservative” estimate of $400,000 in savings next year and savings of up to $700,000 annually by 2021, Warren County Administrator Ryan Moore said.
Moore outlined the lighting program as part of one of three state-mandated “shared services” hearings in Queensbury on Wednesday. The hearings were scheduled to let the public know what the county is doing to share services between the county, municipalities and school districts.
The first two hearings, held in the morning and at noon, drew just one member of the public, a felon who is suing the county over his stint on probation and who came to criticize the Probation Department and court system.
The third was to be held at 6 p.m.
Moore said the county’s two-year-old shared purchasing program’s savings, estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, could not count toward the state requirement to show consolidation and savings starting in 2019, since the program was in place before 2019.
Instead, the county is leading the streetlight program and eight other initiatives starting next year to work with towns, the city of Glens Falls and school districts to save an estimated $701,432 next year, growing to over $1 million by 2021.
That would bring the average taxpayer a savings of $15.62 next year, growing to over $23 in 2012, he said.
The new programs include:
- Efforts by the county Information Technology Department to help municipalities with IT services, anti-virus software and purchasing of equipment.
- The county Department of Public Works assisting municipalities with engineering services.
- Creation of a county DPW equipment database and sharing program, where municipalities would list what they own and make available when not in use. “When a town is in need of a specific piece of equipment, rather than buying or renting it, we can see if there is another municipality to borrow it from,” Moore said.
- The county Tourism Department will lend manpower to municipalities for promotion to free up their employees for other duties, and municipalities will band together to cut costs when accepting credit cards as payment.
- The streetlighting program will allow the county and municipalities that want to take part to purchase their streetlights instead of leasing them, then replace old bulbs with LEDs that will cut utility costs. Streetlights are big expenses, with Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty saying his town spends $80,000 a year annually on them, while Chester Supervisor Craig Leggett said his town spends $24,000 a year on streetlights. “Streetlights are a big cost,” Geraghty said.
Moore said a number of municipalities have already signed on for the different initiatives, and school districts were reviewing their possible participation. With schools on hiatus for the summer, many hadn’t had a chance to look at the programs, Moore explained.
“We’re not asking a municipality to do what they don’t want to do. It’s non-binding,” he said. “They are just fertile grounds, we think, for savings opportunities.”
If the state approves the shared services plan, the county would receive reimbursement for the anticipated savings that would be distributed to the municipalities and school districts that take part.