Shared Services Takes Time, Patience

In today’s instant feedback, instant gratification world, the glacial pace of government often makes it seem as if nothing’s happening.

It seems as if everyone thinks a wave of shared services, municipal and school mergers should be sweeping the state right now; as if with a snap of their fingers, New York’s system of government will look more like North Carolina’s. We all know things aren’t that simple or easy.

Some things, like shared services, take patience. Rather than with a snap of the fingers or a wave of a magic wand, the type of shared services most people want will happen incrementally – one small piece by one small piece.

In fact, it will probably look a lot like what’s happening in Findley Lake and Sherman right now.

Findley Lake officials know the town needs to develop a septic or sewer district. Such work is expensive and the town has never been able to afford it. Now, with the Chautauqua County Health Department talking about enforcing septic regulations more rigidly, Findley Lake residents could be facing a hefty cost to upgrade their individual septic systems. Houses take up so much room in Findley Lake land plots, though, there isn’t room for a typical septic system, meaning Findley Lake residents could be looking at a $35,000 mini wastewater system. Knowing such spending isn’t an option, Findley Lake officials looked around and found Sherman, a neighboring town with a wastewater treatment plant.

Sherman and Findley Lake are splitting the cost of a $9,000 study to see if it makes sense to run sewer lines from Findley Lake to the Sherman wastewater plant.

On the surface, the plan looks like a winner for both sides. Findley Lake could save money running sewer lines to Sherman when compared to building a new wastewater treatment plant. Sherman can broaden the user base for its wastewater plant, possibly decreasing costs for its users.

It is a good sign that Findley Lake looked to a neighboring municipality for help. It is encouraging that Sherman, led by Mayor John Patterson, has chosen to participate in this study. Both steps bode well for future projects.