Consolidation worth a look

Gloversville and Johnstown should study the feasibility of consolidating police and fire departments.

While the effort may not lead to a merger, reviewing the matter still would have value for residents of the two cities and Fulton County.

During his recent State of the County address, Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead talked about a possible three-tier program over the next 10 years to save on the cost of municipal services.

Among his suggestions were joint police and fire departments in the Glove Cities. Stead also brought up the ideas of centralized county tax, garbage collection and highway services, as well as county code enforcement, animal control and assessing.

We think some of these ideas are worth looking into. Specifically, a countywide sheriff’s department that includes the Glove Cities could be beneficial.

We often support efforts to consolidate local government services. It may not be practical every time, but usually, consolidation results in cost savings and a more efficient service.

Given the emphasis the state is placing on consolidating services – for example, the issue is tied to the second year of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed tax freeze – now could be a good time to review the possibilities. If the state is willing to help pay for a study, so much the better for local taxpayers.

We understand many people’s knee-jerk reaction is to protect what they have, to the point of dismissing even the consideration of change such as consolidation or sharing of services.

But it’s inexcusable to let the simple fear of change stand in the way of at least considering how to make the county a better place and local government more affordable for taxpayers.