County eyes consultants for water-sewer project

JOHNSTOWN -Fulton County officials Wednesday reviewed four requests for proposals from engineering firms – ranging in cost from $50,000 to $76,100 – which will help supervisors decide whether to consolidate all water and sewer services in the county.

Proposals were opened by county Administrative Officer Jon Stead at the County Office Building.

The county wants to hire a consultant to study the feasibility of developing a regional municipal water and sewer system in the county,

County Planning Director James Mraz said today that with proposals for professional services, the county doesn’t necessarily have to accept the lowest one. He said the county sent out about 20 proposals for professional consultants to prepare a model for what county officials are calling a possible “SMART Waters” system.

Two firms submitted $50,000 proposals to the county – GHD Consulting of Cazenovia, Madison County, and Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton Park. The other two proposals were from: Weston & Sampson of Rensselaer, Rensselaer County – $64,500; and Barton & Loguidice of Syracuse, Onondaga County – $76,100.

Mraz said about eight or nine of the firms who received proposals asked questions, but the county is pleased with the four final submittals.

“We’re actually very satisfied with the number we had,” he said.

Mraz said the next step in the process is to have the RFPs reviewed by the Board of Supervisors’ Buildings and Grounds Committee on June 24, the Economic Development and Environment Committee on June 25 and the Finance Committee on June 27.

Mraz said how the county pays for the consulting services will be decided by the Finance Committee. The full board will consider approving a final proposal July 8.

The Fulton County Industrial Development Agency, for which Mraz is executive director, last week reviewed county government’s water and sewer plan.

Mraz told the IDA the county believes the new system will be a more efficient model to deliver water and sewer services. He said there are municipal water systems operating in the county in: the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown; villages of Broadalbin, Mayfield and Northville; and at Sacandaga Park in the town of Northampton. There are wastewater operations for the two cities, the villages of Broadalbin and Mayfield, and Sacandaga Park.

“Most of the vacant, developable land left in the county lies outside the two cities,” Mraz said.

He said county government has seen its revenue dwindle, and also has taken steps to cut costs in recent years.

However, he said, the county’s tax base desperately “needs to grow.”

IDA Chairman Joseph Gillis asked whether the study the county seeks will have any revenue projections.

“My concern would be that the city of Gloversville’s best asset would have a loss, a loss of control over it,” Gillis said.

Mraz said any projections would be part of further work down the line, which would include feasibility, cost, and expenditures Gloversville will face if its sells its water system. He noted revenue currently goes to the Gloversville Water Board, not the city.

IDA Treasurer William Sullivan asked about testing and transportation costs associated with a countywide operation.

“The [county] authority would have to develop its own distribution system,” Mraz said.

IDA board member George Bevington – a consultant for the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility – said some of the aspects of a new system will have to be negotiated.