Weekly Feature

2017-08-09 / Local News

County executive submits shared services plan

Poloncarz Poloncarz County Executive Mark Poloncarz has submitted the Erie County Shared Services Savings Panel’s Plan to the County Legislature, a cost-savings proposal that could annually save taxpayers millions of dollars if specific initiatives are implemented.

The plan was compiled after gathering input and suggestions from a shared services panel that consisted of county officials and the mayors and supervisors of the three cities, 25 towns and 16 villages that make up Erie County, the release from Poloncarz’s office said.

“The process of working closely with our many partners in government to identify potential sharing of services and elimination of duplicative services initiatives began in mid-May and, through our combined efforts, resulted in 22 initiatives that could reduce the overall property tax levy by nearly five million dollars,” Poloncarz said in the release.

“Additionally, nine other initiatives were identified that could save millions more if these proposals bear fruit. While these anticipated savings do not measure up to the numerous consolidations, cooperative efforts and shared services that have previously taken place in our region, this plan contains entirely new initiatives that, if implemented, will reduce the size of government and be beneficial to our entire community.”

The savings plan was drafted as part of the new Shared Services Initiative law that was passed as part of the 2017-18 state budget. Each county in New York had to establish a shared services panel as part of a statewide effort to generate property tax saving by facilitating operational collaboration between local governments.

The plan includes suggested shared services involving storm sewer maintenance, animal control services, engineering work, purchasing procedures and services that provide programming for senior citizens, recreation opportunities for children and sharing highway equipment, the release said.

New York state law had established a tight timeline for the work to be completed.

The potential cost-saving ideas and plans were subject to three public hearings held earlier this summer. The proposed plan was presented to the legislature on July 31 for its comment, but not its approval, pursuant to state law.

If any comments are provided by the legislature, the Shared Services Panel will vote whether to accept or reject the final plan by no later than Friday, Sept. 15.

The final plan’s tax savings must be certified by the county executive to the state’s Budget Office by mid-September. The plan would then be publicly presented in October.

In May, the towns of Clarence and Lancaster entered into a formal agreement that will allow Lancaster to send compost materials to Clarence at its composting facility at 6185 Goodrich Road. The contract between the two towns will end Dec. 31, 2018, after which there will be an option to extend the term on a yearly basis, if both parties agree.

Clarence Supervisor Pat Casilio noted that the town would choose to opt out of several initiatives proposed by the county unless such plans could provide definitive numbers that would prove to be economically viable for the town.

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