County Highlights Shared Services Planned For 2022

Rebecca Wurster discusses the 2021 Chautauqua County County-Wide Shared Services Plan. Photo by Gregory Bacon

Chautauqua County is highlighting around $500,000 of proposed savings through shared services in the coming year and is hoping the state will match those savings.

During a presentation at the SUNY Fredonia Incubator in Dunkirk, Rebecca Wurster with the county’s Department of Planning, discussed the 2021 Chautauqua County countywide shared services plan that is being submitted to the state. There are nine projects highlighted in the plan which have already been approved on the local level.


The towns of Dunkirk, Villenova, Pomfret and Hanover will share a town assessor. This allows the position to be full time and have an office open five days a week. This plan is expected to save the four towns combined $15,186 annually.



The town of Pomfret and the village of Fredonia both plan to update their comprehensive plans in 2022. Each municipality completed their current plan about 10 years ago. Last time, each municipality paid the same planning firm to develop their plan. The Town of Pomfret paid $44,500 to complete its plan 10 years ago, and the Village of Fredonia paid $ 41,900. The combined cost of the new project is $60,000 so this is expected to save the two municipalities $26,400.


Upon the retirement of the village of Mayville Code Enforcement Officer, the town of Chautauqua offered to share code enforcement personnel with the village. The town already employed one full time code enforcement officer and a part time code enforcement officer for fire inspections and fill in duties. Mayville’s part time code enforcement officer only worked four, three-hour days a week. The result of the merger will provide Mayville a code enforcement office that is open all week, and the town will have two full time code officers. This is also expected to generate $9,000 of savings in 2022 and $10,000 of savings a year after that.


Due to flooding at Dewittville and Bemus creeks, concerns with property damage and public safety at the confluence of Chautauqua Lake needs to be addressed. Dredging an area of accumulated gravel of both creeks is expected to improve both and reduce flooding. The cost of each project is approximately $60,900. Of that, Chautauqua County and the Alliance are contributing an estimated $15,000 for engineering and technical services. The Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities will share an excavator at an estimated value of $15,000.

The town of Chautauqua will provide its front-end loader at an estimated in-kind value of $8,000, and the town of Ellery will share its highway trucks at an estimated value of $8,000. Laboratory costs of $7,500 and the rental cost of $7,400 for an 8-ton tracked dump truck will be direct costs and will be shared between the town of Chautauqua and Chautauqua County.

Each project will generate $38,000 of savings annually for the next five years.


Neither the City of Dunkirk or the Village of Fredonia owns and operates many special water maintenance equipment items that are used to fix and enhance water mains for drinking, industry, and fire protection. Because these items are essential but not used all of the time, each municipality must now rent the equipment at great individual expense. By jointly owning and operating these specialized items, savings will be around $100,000 annually for each municipality. The following are the items they intend to purchase and share: 1) Electronic Leak Detection Equipment at a cost of $150,000; 2) HydraStopline isolation equipment at a cost of $250,000 including supplies for all lines from 4-inch through 12-inch; 3) Specialized line cutting equipment for large lines at a cost of $100,000. The total initial cost will be $500,000, but with $100,000 projected savings for each community each year by sharing these special items in house.


The towns of French Creek and Mina currently share a justice to preside over both courts. The towns of Clymer and Sherman engaged in a study with French Creek and Mina to expand the role of the single town justice to cover all four towns. The process included approval from the state senate and assembly, as well as the governor. Approval was received, and the position of a single town justice to cover all four towns was placed on the November 2021 ballot and a single justice was elected.

Additionally, the four towns will enter into a shared services agreement as Mina has adequate space for a court room that can handle all four towns. The towns of Clymer, French Creek, and Sherman will help defray the costs of operating the facility at $50 a month each. Although the towns will each employ the justice and the justice clerk, additional savings for the four towns include sharing of court security that is contracted through the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s department, and a reduction in out-of-pocket expenses for mandatory training of four separate justices.

This shared justice is expected to save $12,390 annually.


The town of Harmony currently employs a part-time safety/zoning person at 5 hours per week. The town needs to increase the current office hours and safety inspection hours to 15 hours per week. The town of Busti has a full time and a part time zoning and fire department, which it shares with the village of Lakewood. Busti, through shared services of its existing department, can offer expanded hours within their town as well as at their present location for building permit issuing.

Busti will also provide much needed additional hours for safety/building inspections. Busti will charge the town of Harmony $11,000 for this service, thereby eliminating the need for the town of Harmony department.

This is expected to generate $19,000 of savings annually.


The city of Dunkirk currently has in its fleet a 23-year-old vacuum truck that is being shared on an as-needed basis with the county, the village of Fredonia, and the town of Dunkirk. The VacTruck has surpassed its useful life, and needs to be replaced.

When the city shares this truck during non-emergency times for other municipalities to utilize for preventive maintenance of storm and sanitary systems, it also includes a driver and an operator. By the city of Dunkirk sharing this specialized equipment there is a cost avoidance to each of the other three municipalities for the purchase of this piece of equipment. The purchase price on state contract is approximately $500,000 and is planned for a 2022 purchase. This purchase will be a one-time savings by not having to purchase duplicate equipment.

This is expected to create $150,000 in savings annually.


In 2022, these shared services are expected to save $507,976. In 2023 and 2024, the shared services are expected to create $482,576 in savings. Each plan has already been approved. Wurster said the county will submit this report to the Department of State, which will review the county’s Shared Services Initiatives.

The hope is that the state will match a portion of each savings initiative. That money will go directly to the municipalities involved. “Say you have project that you work with two different municipalities. In total that savings is $100,000 for whatever the project is. The state will give a one-time match of 95% of that savings, so the municipalities may be eligible for $95,000,” said Wurster.

Wurster added that the state will evaluate each project individually and will release its match funds over the next year or two, depending on when the savings take place.


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