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Friday, October 31, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,
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Town approves potential court co-location feasibility study

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - Updated: 9:34 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

PALATINE BRIDGE -- During the Town Board of Palatine's monthly meeting last Wednesday, the board passed a resolution supporting a move to undergo a feasibility study aimed at finding out whether numerous local municipalities could merge their court systems, developing a brand new court co-location.

Supervisor Sara Niccoli said that earlier this month, a meeting in Fonda was attended by representatives of the towns of Minden, Palatine, Canajoharie and St. Johnsville. Each town's supervisor, one council member, a justice and court clerk attended the meeting, though two of Palatine's town board members were in attendance.

Niccoli said, "One point I just want to bring up is, in that meeting we actually had one supervisor and two council members, which is technically illegal." She said that as facilitator of the meeting, she "felt very uncomfortable asking one person to leave in front of everybody."

"I just want to make sure we're clear that we need to follow the law," moving forward, she said.

The meeting was held to discuss the possibility of the four towns merging their court systems and operating out of one, currently undesignated site. First, a feasibility study must be conducted. If all four towns agree separately to opt into the study, at a current approximate cost of $6,000 a piece, the possibility exists that they will receive back 90 percent of the feasibility study's cost from the state if they move forward with construction.

"It provides incentive to not only do a feasibility study, but to move forward with it," said Niccoli.

Niccoli continued, "there's strong support from the county legislators, from Matt Ossenfort's office and the county, and there's definitely strong support from the governor. They have a lot of incentive to make this work."

Niccoli noted that not all four towns are currently interested, stating, "In general, there was more hesitation from the Canajoharie side of things than everybody else. Everybody else seems relatively interested, but had questions."

At least two towns need to be interested to conduct a feasibility study.

If the project enters the construction phase, 90 percent of that cost could also be covered by the state, with ten percent covered by the towns involved. Niccoli mentioned that the possibility exists for the county or state to cover some of the additional cost.

Niccoli said, putting forth a motion, "my recommendation is, at this point, not to promise any dollar figure. To not say 'yes, we'll commit $6,000,' but we'll say that in theory, we support the notion of moving into a feasibility study," with a note that with Palatine working "on a very tight budget," the board would like to see what state and county funding is available before committing themselves to the consolidation.

     

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