By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
It seems like just a couple of months ago that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in West Haverstraw, announcing that municipalities needed to do something to bring costs under control.
That something, he told us, was shared services.
Never mind that counties across New York are burdened with unfunded mandates handed down by Gov. Cuomo and other Albany lawmakers.
And never mind that here in Rockland County we have a list of services that we have long shared to save the taxpayer money.
We had lots of questions about this process and the thought that went into it.
Why were schools excluded from the requirement that they take part even though school expenses make up a major part of the property tax bill?
The state promised to match our savings, but how would we qualify?
We didn’t let those and other issues stop us.
I feel that we owe it to people who elected us – the taxpayer – to examine any and every idea that save so much as a nickel.
We took a leadership role in the process and became the first county in the state to start meeting with a panel comprised of officials from our towns and villages and started working on a plan.
I am proud to announce that on Wednesday we met the state deadline.
Like every other county in New York, Rockland was obligated by the passage of the state budget in April to begin working on a Shared Services Initiative.
Under state law, the report was due to be submitted to the Rockland County Legislature just over three months later, on August 1.
We submitted a report to the Rockland County Legislature that outlines areas that municipalities and other entities have expressed interest in exploring in order to achieve savings without compromising service.
Keep in mind that this was a process that included the public, our taxing entities as well as BOCES and some of our school districts which chose to participate even though schools were not required to do so under the law.
It’s a collaborate process – one that will continue over the next year as we work through the details.
Here are some ideas that come out of meetings and surveys.
- Countywide Animal Control Program
- Cooperative purchasing of paper and other items through the Empire State Purchasing Group
- Bulk purchase of LED Lighting
- Shared printing through BOCES
- Shared police dispatching
- Formalizing agreements among Highway Departments
- Joint bids for landscaping and custodial services
- Dissolution and sharing of small village courts
Please keep in mind that these are ideas that the panel came up with. Nothing has been decided yet and there is a lot of study that would have to be done, not to mention agreements by all agencies involved, before moving ahead.
And let’s also keep in mind that we have already achieved success in sharing services and saving money. Some examples – the Hudson Valley Municipal Purchasing Group was started with the leadership of Rockland.
The Rockland County Highway Department has long shared services and equipment with the towns.
We have numerous law enforcement services – the bomb squad, intelligence units, etc. – that pool and share services and information.
And Rockland BOCES was formed with the idea of sharing educational services among our school districts.
We have put this report on our website, which you can view here or at http://rocklandgov.com/departments/county-executive/shared-services-initiative/
Take a look. And remember that nothing is carved in stone.
And if you have additional ideas for sharing services and saving us money, please send it here or at http://rocklandgov.com/departments/county-executive/shared-services-initiative/#form
We are open to any ideas that can save you money.