Franklin, Ogdensburg mull sharing court

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Officials in Franklin and Ogdensburg are once again discussing the possibility of entering into a shared services agreement for municipal court, though no action has yet come before either council.

The Franklin Borough Council discussed the matter in executive session on Tuesday, and officials could thus not provide any details about the scope of a potential arrangement.

However, Borough Administrator Alison Littell McHose indicated a move to shared court services would help alleviate some of the difficulties and expenses municipalities face in running their own systems.

“The continued requirements the state mandates, whether it be security or equipment, the costs involved with running your own municipal court are high,” McHose said. “In the state of New Jersey it's very difficult because we have blanket policy for things like this. So the city of Newark and the Borough of Ogdensburg have to have the same level of everything. And it's often cost prohibitive to absorb that.”

McHose said the idea of shared court services with Ogdensburg has come up before and been dropped previously, but characterized the ongoing negotiations as “good.”

Collection battle continuesCouncilwoman Dawn Fantasia also noted Tuesday the borough's battle to increase collection rates for taxes and water and sewer fees continues.

In the fourth quarter, Fantasia the property tax collection rate came in at 93.7 percent. The full year 2016 tax collection rate, she said, came in at 97.1 percent, just under the Council's goal of 97.4 percent. Fantasia indicated the lower figure will factor in to how the borough calculates the necessary reserve for uncollected taxes in 2017.

Fantasia additionally pointed to collection of water and sewer fees as another area of focus for improvement. In 2016, she said the borough was left with around $45,000 in unpaid water and sewer fees.

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