The Onondaga County shared services committee approved a county-wide shared services plan Wednesday, and local governments could be in line for $5 million in savings, plus a $5 million match from the state.
The just over two month timeline to get something done that was required by the New York forced towns, villages, school districts and city of Syracuse to spend a lot of time communicating this summer.
And while approvals by local governments will tell the final tale of savings, Town of Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra says the process opened communication between governments
“I think more can come of these relations as we know each other better, and know the operations of each other’s municipality,” said Nicotra.
And that, says Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson, means there could be more consolidations down the line.
“It’s really brought the city and the villages together,” said Olson. “And I think that’s something that we’re looking forward to seeing if there’s ways to combine services and help each other out.”
But Olson described the proposal as the “best we could” under a tight deadline, and says it could have been better if there had been more time.
“The reason it was the best we could was because we didn’t have the timeframe to literally go back to our legislature and get approval and input, before we had to go back and vote yes or no,” he said.
The 31-point plan calls for government sharing things like highway facilities, and using bulk buying power to get cheaper insurance. It also moves the consolidation conversation to a new level with creation of the Greater Syracuse Shared Services Council, which will streamline shared service proposals in the future.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says that may be the committee’s greatest legacy.
“When this community talks about Consensus it’s been A or B. And this version C is a hybrid that’s a lot closer to satisfying, because it keeps those separate identities, but brings the buying power as a whole. So I predict good things for that,” said Mahoney.
The plan still needs to be approved by the local governments. If they opt out of any of the proposals, they must state why, in writing, by October 15.