By Supervisor George Hoehmann
One of my top priorities as Supervisor has been to find ways to consolidate and save the taxpayers money. Providing the residents of Clarkstown excellent services in a cost-effective and efficient matter is the goal of each department within the town government. At a time when household and municipal budgets alike are tight, achieving that goal is tougher than ever. With the “low hanging fruit” already picked, last year I asked staff to examine consolidations that yielded efficiencies and cost savings, even if they were not immediate.
Earlier this year, we established a new Department of Engineering and Facilities Maintenance (DEFM) formerly Department of Environmental Control (DEC), which achieves those goals without compromising service or growing the size and cost of government. The main goals of the creation of DEFM are to combine maintenance personnel, currently residing in three separate departments, into one.
Clarkstown maintains 700 acres of park land, three swimming facilities, 191 Cul-de-Sacs, 12 Commuter lots, 3 cemeteries, 3 memorials, 5 water fountains and numerous other landscaping, plumbing, electrical and other maintenance tasks. Some of these functions are handled currently (and almost always separately) by Parks Maintenance staff, others by the Building Maintenance Department’s Cul-de-Sac Crew and some by custodial staff in two separate departments, not to mention the staff who maintain the town’s capped landfill.
The new department will have more flexibility with staffing and coverage. When the unexpected occurs and more personnel are needed to handle a maintenance problem, the DEFM will be able to deploy people to where they are needed most—and quickly.
Many of our employees have individualized skills that were only used in their specific department. Under the new department, we can use the best person for each job and it allows for cross training as well. But the key benefit to this consolidation is reducing overtime. The 2019 budget includes $100,000 in overtime savings due to the consolidation.
In planning and implementing this change, my staff worked together with the CSEA to be sure the changes were within the bounds of the existing contract. I believe that working together the Town is on the path to creating a department that will serve the residents even better.