Exploring Efficiency

Proposal To Merge Town, Village Offices Considered

Busti Town Board Member Rudy Mueller delivers his proposal to absorb the Lakewood Village offices in the town building on Chautauqua Avenue. Lakewood trustees considered the proposal and agreed to form a committee to talk about how to save taxpayers money in the village and town. P-J photo by Eric Zavinski

LAKEWOOD — Busti Town board members and Lakewood village trustees have been thinking about ways to save their taxpayers money, and an office merger has been proposed as one way to do that.

Following a proposal from Busti Town Board Member Rudy Mueller, the town and village governments have decided to form a committee to seek out ways taxpayer dollars can be saved. Mueller suggested earlier in March at a Busti Town Board meeting that the best way to save money would be to absorb the village of Lakewood offices currently located in the Anthony C. Caprino Municipal Building into the Busti town offices’ available basement space.

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

According to Mueller’s proposal, the Lakewood-Busti Police Department and Lakewood History Museum would remain in the Caprino building. Mueller said the merger would lower utility costs and increase transparency and communication between the town and village.

Trustees expressed a desire to keep the historic building as part of the village and said they would not outright accept Mueller’s proposal.

“We would be remiss … to ignore this,” Trustee Doug Schutte said at Monday’s village board meeting.

That sentiment was shared by the rest of the board, and they agreed talks of what to do would continue at the end of March. Busti Town Supervisor Jesse Robbins was also in attendance at the recent Lakewood meeting, and he also agreed to move things along through private discussions, with potential public hearings on the matter to follow.

Schutte proposed the idea of forming a committee to discuss money-saving matters between the village and town. Lakewood Treasurer Andrea Windoft said the Busti offices could move into the Caprino building instead.

“There’s a lot of pros and cons going both ways,” Windoft said.

Trustee Ellen Barnes said she wouldn’t want to have office space for village employees in the basement of the town building and added that there will be a lot to think about in regard to a potential merger.

Lakewood Deputy Mayor Ted McCague thanked Mueller for his presentation and hard work in researching the various ways a merger could be beneficial. Mueller thanked the trustees for allowing him to speak.

In other news, the standard contract with Zambelli Fireworks to provide a Fourth of July fireworks display was approved. David Card, Lakewood’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year, expressed desire to have the businesses lead event planning for the remaining holiday festivities this summer, much like how the recent Christmas in the Village event came to be.

Lakewood-Busti Police Chief John Bentley was authorized to request bids for a 2019 SUV for the department’s K9 unit.

Follow Eric Zavinski at twitter.com/EZavinski.