SHERMAN - Following nearly four months of back-and-forth discussion, the Sherman Department of Public Facilities shop will remain open this summer.
County Executive Greg Edwards announced that the Department of Public Facilities construction crews will report to the Sherman shop this summer in a press release Monday. He said the decision to keep the shop open this summer is based on the commitment the county received from the village and the town of Sherman to enter into a professional analysis of collective highway efforts.
"This study will determine if we can bring potential savings to taxpayers by maintaining the same services but by sharing a single facility for all three of these operations and sharing our resources," Edwards said.
In November 2012, it was announced that the Department of Public Facilities was reviewing the opportunity to save taxpayers approximately $250,000 by closing the Sherman shop. This savings could be recognized by eliminating the district supervisor position, having year-round mechanics reassigned to the Falconer or Sheridan shops, and having 17 members of the Sherman road crew report to Falconer or Sheridan during the construction season. The proposal was announced following the retirement of a district supervisor.
"You have the individual's salary, you have the benefits which is approximately 70 percent of his salary," Spanos said. "That individual does take a car home, so you have to include the capital investment of a vehicle, usage and maintenance."
Despite projected savings, the announcement was met by much resistance. A Facebook page encouraged county residents to contact their legislators and request that each of the three shops remain open year-round. Additionally, a public meeting was held in December. Sherman residents voiced concerns to Edwards and Spanos. Additionally, Sherman Mayor John Patterson and Legislator Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, spoke at the meeting. Patterson asked the county executive to look at all options before closing the shop for the summer months.
"We fought like a son of a gun to get where we are now, and we're going to be just like a puppy on a rope," Patterson said. "We're not going to let this go. We're not going to slide backwards. We're going to do everything that we possibly can to keep this facility open."
In February, Patterson said at a Sherman Village Board meeting the shop would likely remain open. He told board members that several conversations had taken place between himself and Edwards since the public meeting. Patterson also said he received word from a county shop employee, saying that interviews were going to be held for a new district supervisor for the Sherman county shop, to replace the one who had retired. Additionally, Patterson said he was told by Ken France, district supervisor of the Sheridan shop, that the Sherman shop would remain open for the summer.
After Edwards met with Patterson and town of Sherman Supervisor Mark Persons to discuss the Sherman shop, they discovered grant opportunities through the New York State Shared Municipal Incentive program and other programs that could assist in funding a professional analysis of each highway operation.
"As we pursue this study, it is important that we all work together to ensure that each highway department receives the attention it deserves," Persons said. "By keeping all of these services in Sherman it will continue to support our local economy."
The study is expected to be completed by next summer, and after it is reviewed a decision will be made on the future of highway operations in Sherman.
"This effort of villages and towns coming together to provide a benefit to taxpayers is something that all municipalities need to investigate, and I am encouraged by our efforts to refine and consolidate services," Edwards said.