2008-01-02 / Front Page

Sewer services consolidated

Residents to save $100 annually
by JESSICA L. FINCH Amherst Associate Editor

A plan to consolidate sewer services for four municipalities is estimated to save between $5 million and $6 million.

(See editorial on page four)

The merger was announced by former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra on his last day in office, Dec. 31, along with Amherst Supervisor Satish Mohan.

Giambra said he has supported regionalism during his two terms and was glad to see another such plan move forward.

The plan is to consolidate sewer services for the towns of Amherst and Clarence, the Village of Williamsville and Erie County sewer districts in that corridor.

"We stand united in our belief that regional sewer service makes good economic sense," Giambra said during the press conference held at Amherst's Wastewater Treatment Plant.

He added that the plan could reduce current operating costs by 23 percent.

The savings will be realized by reducing the office work done by the four municipalities to one. Amherst's main plant, known as Plant 16, will still process the water and waste.

During the press conference, the lead agency for the merger was not announced but is expected to be headed by Amherst or Erie County. Mohan agreed to spearhead a steering committee that will finalize the details of the plan.

The estimated savings is $100 annually per household.

Mohan said the plan will also make one government accountable. He added that prior to a merger, emergencies and issues were difficult to handle because of the several municipalities involved, and not one group was accountable.

"It's high time that Western New York and Erie County do something to catch up with the rest of the nation," he said, adding that during a recent visit to California he realized that a lot less is being spent to service millions more people.

In a related manner, Giambra and Mohan agreed that the county's Division of Sewage Management will be responsible for the Amherst Water Pollution Control Facility superintendent duties in 2008. The estimated savings is $120,000.

Amherst had approved the hiring of a superintendent in its 2008 budget.

"It is our ultimate goal to improve water resources and lessen the tax burden on our residents both now and in the future," Giambra said.

During his tenure, Giambra saw mergers in Lancaster - the town and village's police departments and the Village of Lancaster's water system with Erie County.

In his final press conference as the county's leader, Giambra said there should be more regionalism, and the merger on his final day proves, "it's never too late."

Mohan said he expects the task force to research the plan for two to three months before implementation.

When asked how this would affect jobs, the two leaders said layoffs would not take place. The work force will be reduced through attrition.

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