Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has scheduled four public meetings next month to sound out local residents on ways to share services under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s statewide initiative to streamline local governments.
Bellone has scheduled town hall meetings in East Hampton, Southampton, Babylon and in Huntington between July 10 and July 18.
“We want to have sessions where there can be informal brainstorming,” said Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman, whom Bellone put in charge of the countywide effort to bring towns, villages and school districts together.
The meetings will be followed by a round of formal public hearings after a preliminary service sharing plan is presented to the county legislature Aug. 1. The legislature must adopt a formal plan by Sept. 15.
The state will match dollar for dollar any savings that local governments can achieve and document in 2018.
Neither Bellone nor Kaiman could estimate the expected savings.
Bellone warned that initiatives developed in such fiscal times will be more about creating a mindset to encourage town, county and village governments to work closer on a continuing basis.
“We’re looking to create a culture of cooperation,” Bellone said. “We are looking for singles and doubles rather than grand slams.”
Kaiman said area local governments are looking at initiatives that include pooling fuel purchases, consolidating waterfront activities such as boat patrols to pump-out activities, and exploring ways to consolidate information technology services.
Kaiman has conducted weekly meetings with local governments since the beginning of June and formed subcommittees on legal issues, technology, auditing and programming to help make joint efforts work. Kaiman also said several school districts also are participating.
The community meetings will be held at East Hampton Town Hall on July 10 at 11 a.m.; Southampton Town Hall, 6 p.m. July 10; Babylon Town Hall, 1 p.m. July 11; and Huntington Town Hall, 6 p.m. July 18.