There was a light turnout last night for the first public hearing regarding Onondaga County’s shared services proposal.
Only five people came to the podium to discuss a preliminary document that includes dozens of suggestions for sharing services among local governments and school districts. Among those concerned, local CSEA union representative Rick Noreault, who wanted to see more details about a proposed transportation hub for schools to deliver students to programs outside their school district.
“Every school district has their own transportation department, bus drivers, mechanics, bus aides. Is the idea they’re all going to lose their departments and you’re going to have one? And you’re going to employ all these folks, or is it going to cut it in half? So, we don’t know,” Noreault said.
Other concerns included a lack of dollar figures that show just how much savings sharing services will bring. It’s not clear in the first draft.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, who is tasked with putting a final document together, says those numbers will come in later drafts.
"No one is going to be asked to vote on a shared services plan that doesn’t have the detail behind it that justifies the savings,” Mahoney said.
For the local government officials in the house, one thing they want on the record, is a request for support in fighting state mandates that they say drive up spending for their budgets. Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson says without it, the whole process doesn’t mean much.
"If we save a thousand dollars on a line and the mandate goes up $2,000, then we aren’t any farther ahead. And that’s what been happening is these mandates have been climbing and climbing and climbing, and we’ve been controlling our costs, but we can’t keep up with the increases in these mandates,” Olson said.
The final report is due in mid-September. There will be two more public hearings after more revisions. The state is asking all counties to come up with ways to cut spending through this shared services initiative, and then is offering to match any savings.