Governments in Onondaga County spend an average of $3,900 per resident each year. And spending on each of the 468,000 people in the county is rising.
Those are some of the findings in a new report out on government consolidation.
Center for Government Research president Joseph Stekfo says municipalities that go through consolidation typically see noticeable savings but that’s if governments and residents are willing. He says any change in municipal services pulls at people expectations of community.
"It requires a leap of faith on the part of elected officials," he said. "It requires a leap of the part of voters and residents who have come to depend on a certain type and level of service."
Stefko was hired by Consensus, a commission looking at ways to consolidate government services within Onondaga County. The group just released its baseline report.
The per capita spending figures compiled by Stefko's team are for 2013. They also found municipal spending per resident has increased 43 percent over the past decade, from $2,816 in 2003.
There are 36 different municipal governments in Onondaga County, each with many of its own departments, such as sewer and public works. The county has seen consolidation of police departments in recent years.
Onondaga County governments could save 5 to 7 percent on their budgets by sharing services and consolidation, Stefko speculated, but he says that’s only if leaders and residents are willing.
"Some communities will be willing to take that leap of faith at the prospect of five percent savings. Other communities will be less willing, or maybe completely unwilling to take a leap of faith at the prospect of the save level of savings," Stefko said.
He says the thought of eliminating a service pulls at people’s sense of community, even if the county is more interconnected than they realize.
Some governments see savings of just one to two percent, while Stekfo says his company sometimes find double-digit savings.