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Nassau, Suffolk agree on joint bids for paper, supplies

Nassau and Suffolk officials for the first time have tentatively agreed to put out joint bids for paper equipment and other supplies in an attempt to cut costs.

The tentative pact came in a conference call Friday, though both sides will have to work out the details.

Officials say the initiative will enlist towns, school districts, villages and even nonprofit agencies aiming to lower supply costs by economies of scale.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who's set to formally lay out the proposal in his state of the county message Wednesday, said he expected the effort would begin this year. Joint bids could net even bigger discounts than from existing state bid lists, he said.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is also in favor. "We support anything that can help save the taxpayer money," said his spokesman Michael Martino.

Ken Crannell, deputy county executive, could give no estimate of the savings the counties may achieve.

But a similar approach by 33 county, town, school districts, village and nonprofit groups in the Hudson Valley last year saved $104,000 on a $1.2 million paper bid, he said.

Paul Brennan, Rockland County's purchasing director, said that group has now put out joint bids on four or five items, including for vehicles and office supplies, and plans to expand the effort to wastewater treatment chemicals this year.

Cooperative Nassau-Suffolk efforts have been rare. Proposals over the years for a joint police academy, a cooperative children's shelter and joint sewer operations went nowhere.

Within Suffolk, Levy has permitted local governments to buy fuel off the county bids, but aides say only about a half-dozen agencies, mainly fire districts, have taken advantage.

Levy also tried to get schools and towns to jointly bid for services like cafeteria, security and printing services.

Though the county got no immediate takers, Levy went ahead and issued a request for proposals on his own, but the bids have not yet been returned.

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