Municipalities in Onondaga County are taking the first step to creating a shared services plan. It’s part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to face governments to work together in order to to save taxpayer dollars. The state is requiring all counties to come up with a plan with their local governments.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney called a meeting of supervisors and mayors from across Onondaga County to outline a timetable for creating this county-wide plan for sharing services.
"What’s asked right now of the local governments is the willingness to partner with another municipality in a way to save taxpayers money. And as they say, they do that already, so this should be easy for them to do that,” Mahoney said.
And at the end of the meeting, mayors and supervisors left a pile of suggestions for shared services, and have a month to come up with more. But there are some lingering concerns. Many officials said they are already sharing services, like Manlius Supervisor Ed Theobald.
"I hear the same thing from other supervisors -- that they are doing this consolidation as well and shared services, and have been for years. I don’t know where the problem is, but I know it’s not in Onondaga County,” Theobald said.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner was the first to bring up one recurring question of how the savings will be measured, especially when shared services may not necessarily bring tax rates down.
"I'm fine with getting together to talk about services and maybe where we can be more efficient or are there places we can be more effective. But where I”m not fine is getting together with the false impression that these are going to lead to people paying less on their property tax levy next year. These conversations need to happen in Albany,” Miner said.
Mahoney says those concerns will be noted in a final shared services plan, which will be molded through a private website, and offered up for public comment during a series of public hearings. The final document is expected to be finished by September, and at that point municipalities have the option of pulling out of any shared services proposals. Schools and BOCES officials will also be part of the plan, and will meet later this month.