North Shore villages look to share arborist

North Shore villages look to share arborist
Five North Shore villages are considering sharing an arborist to reduce costs. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

Five North Shore villages are looking to cut costs by sharing an arborist, officials said.

The villages of Baxter Estates, Flower Hill, Plandome, Plandome Heights and Plandome Manor have been working to take advantage of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to reduce property taxes by requiring local governments to find ways to share services.

Plandome Heights Mayor Ken Riscica said his village shares a number of services with Plandome and Plandome Manor, including a shared building inspector and temporary personnel with Plandome Manor and public meeting spaces with Plandome.

“These efforts, as well as the work of numerous volunteers, result in our cost of service delivery being 33 percent lower than outside the Village,” Riscica said, saving the village thousands of dollars annually.

While many of the villages are particular about maintaining and replacing trees, Baxter Estates Clerk-Treasurer Chrissy Kiernan said the village only requires an arborist a few days a year, at most, and therefore could easily share one.

The Village of Baxter Estates Board of Trustees approved a service agreement with certified arborist Richard Gibney of Gibney Design in Wading River at the July 6 meeting, with rates of $150 an hour for arborist services and $50 an hour for administrative support.

“If we never need it, we won’t use the arborist, but if we want to have an annual evaluation for tree trimming before the spring or fall, that’s who we would have do the evaluation,” Kiernan said.

Kiernan said the village approved Gibney’s agreement after the Village of Flower Hill approved a similar measure at the June 5 meeting.

Plandome Clerk Elizabeth Kaye told Newsday her village could save a rough estimate of up to $2,000 a year by sharing an arborist with other villages.

Plandome, Plandome Heights and Plandome Manor have yet to approve Gibney, and currently each village has its own on-call arborist.

Attempts to reach officials with the villages of Flower Hill, Plandome and Plandome Manor were unavailing.

During the Village of Munsey Park Board of Trustees meeting Sept. 13, resident Deborah Miller asked if the village was interested in sharing with the other five.

“I didn’t know about that endeavor,” Trustee Lawrence Ceriello said. “Right now we are doing everything in-house, whether that stays how we do things in terms of evaluating applications for pruning and tree removal and tree care, is something that I’m looking at. I guess we can always join them at some point in the future, but right now I don’t want to commit to doing that until we have a better handle on how we handle trees generally.”

Ceriello said the village does not currently have an on-call arborist.

“We rely on the homeowners who are looking for trees to bring in a reason for the applications, and we try to use good judgment and good sense,” Ceriello said. “We don’t really get too much need for an arborist, but it’s something we could look at.”

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