Co-Locating The Busti And Lakewood Offices Should Be Investigated

It has always made relatively little sense to have Busti and Lakewood, two related government entities, be located in separate buildings in Lakewood.

We hope a proposal by Dr. Rudy Mueller, Busti Town Board member, isn’t disregarded. Mueller’s overall goal is to lower the taxpayer costs for both town and village residents by cutting down on utility and employee costs for the village. A possible building merger would also come at a time of transition for the village. Village Clerk Joe Johnson plans on retiring this year, so Mueller proposes that the village’s deputy clerk take over village business and that no extra deputy clerk needs hired for the village. Instead, the town and village could share a promoted deputy clerk from Busti to work full-time and take care of remaining town and village business. Busti would retain its town clerk as well. He proposes a tentative lease agreement for three years with Lakewood village government paying the town for use of meeting spaces and downstairs office spaces.

Mueller’s projected estimated taxpayer savings is up to $10,000 to $15,000 for town residents and $20,000 to $30,000 for village residents per year.

As far as the Lakewood History Museum and Lakewood-Busti Police Department are concerned, those entities would remain in the Caprino building for the near future.

“I think it’s going to be more efficient,” Mueller said. “I think this is a great opportunity to improve.”

While we wonder about the need to have Lakewood pay rent to the town to lease space in the Busti offices, Mueller’s proposal is one that neither be dismissed or approved without a good amount of consideration. Concerns raised by village officials about the fate of the Caprino building should not be dismissed. No one wants to see the grand old building sit empty given its lengthy history within the village. It would be nice to see a discussion of what its future could be outside of acting as a village government building. And, rushing through the process could lead to problems down the road between town and village officials, something no one wants to see happen.

The town and village share enough services now, with the possibility of more sharing in the future, that co-locating offices should be investigated. Now is as good a time as any.

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