Hilltowns and Albany County should take over state routes served by Voorheesville substation

To the Editor:

I applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo’s initiative for more shared services among local governments and the potential benefit to municipalities and counties accepting the challenge.

I see a great opportunity for municipal shared services in the Hilltowns of Albany County with respect to the roads and municipal highway departments, the state’s Department of Transportation included.

This was tried once before. The parties involved were Albany County and the town of Berne. There were several fatal flaws.

One flaw being that the town would have to sell its equipment and the other being that the county could opt out of the agreement with one year’s notice. This would leave a town without equipment and only a year to buy or lease everything it formerly owned.

My six years of experience on the Knox Town Council made me recognize this to be untenable, foolish, and irresponsible with taxpayer assets.

A short drive on State Route 85 towards Rensselaerville will make you completely aware that this road is in need of rebuilding and has been for the last 10 years.

Other area state routes, including but not limited to 146, 156 and 443, are in similar disrepair. The Albany County roads and town roads in the Hilltowns are in better condition and show the care, maintenance, and benefits of reconstruction at some frequency.

Having been chairman of the Albany County Public Works Committee for eight years, I have seen very successful contract administration and supervision of highway reconstruction projects by staff during my tenure. I also saw many years of the Albany County Department of Public Works contracting to plow state roads in the Hilltowns and this arrangement is in place today.

My suggestion is that Albany County and any Hilltown that wants to participate should join together and resolve to take over the state routes that are currently served by the DOT Voorheesville substation. This could become a model for replication in other areas.

For the process to work, it has to be perfectly open and transparent. Issues to be managed will range from labor agreements, potential retirement incentives and costs, merging of engineering technology, allocation of machinery, inter-municipal agreements, and a slew of soft costs.

There are savings to be had here. Good, honest communication and a willingness to see across parochial and self-imposed borders are the tools to bring to the table.

Sandy Gordon

Editor’s note: Sandy Gordon is a former Knox councilmen and former Albany County legislator.

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