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Legislature backs shared services initiative

August 28, 2018 06:34 pm

CATSKILL — Greene County officials will continue to look at ideas for shared services after the legislature passed a resolution last week to support the county’s shared services property tax savings plan.

Greene County, a rural community, has worked together with towns and villages for some time to stretch limited resources and provide value to taxpayers, according to the resolution. The county has worked across jurisdictions to share services such as courts, highway and fire departments and law enforcement.

The legislature supports the submission of a county-wide shared services initiative for 2019 with regard to updating and modernizing street lights in the county, according to the resolution.

Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden will continue discussions with town and village leaders to create a shared services plan aimed at creating property tax savings in 2019.

The resolution passed during the legislature’s regular monthly meeting last Wednesday.

Legislators William Lawrence, R-Cairo; Michael Bulich, R-Catskill; Linda Overbaugh, R-Catskill; Matt Luvera, R-Catskill; Kevin Lennon, D-Catskill; Charles Martinez, R-Coxsackie; Thomas Hobart, R-Coxsackie; Pat Linger, R-New Baltimore; Aidan O’Connor Jr., D-Durham; Larry Gardner, D-Hunter; Lori Torgersen, D-Windham; and Legislature Chairman Kevin Lewis, R-Greenville, voted for the resolution.

Legislators Lee Palmateer, D-Athens, and Harry Lennon, D-Cairo, were absent.

The statewide initiative proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo aims to save taxpayers money by implementing shared services or other cooperative arrangements between governments in the county. Some ways to consolidate services include joint purchasing, sharing highway equipment and eliminating duplicate services.

Public hearings on proposed shared services were held in Catskill in May, in Hunter in June and in Cairo in July. In Groden’s meetings with municipal leaders some of the shared services ideas that figured prominently in the discussion were formation of a health care consortium and sharing the costs of street lights.

Lexington Town Supervisor John Berger, who attended two of the shared services meetings with other town leaders, said none of the proposals would have an effect on his town.

“We already share as much as we can,” Berger said last week. “If we could find something more to share, we would.”

Lexington Highway Department trucks plow county roads — a service the town has been sharing for years, but pre-existing shared services aren’t eligible under the governor’s plan, Berger said.

“Everybody’s here to look to save a nickel and save a dime,” Berger said. “You can’t put forth something we already do.”

The Tannersville Village Board has been working on switching all lighting in the town to LED and has a list of all lights needing a change, Tannersville Mayor Lee McGunnigle said.

“Maybe with the county behind us we’ll have more force,” he said. “We really welcome it.”

The village has many informal shared services initiatives such as working with the town of Hunter Highway Department with plowing and eliminating multiple assessors, McGunnigle, a candidate for county treasurer, said.

“They [highway departments] work out informal agreements with plowing,” the mayor said.

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.