Suffolk supervisors, mayors, school leaders and County Executive Steve Bellone on Tuesday unanimously passed a plan to share municipal services that county officials hope will save county taxpayers $37 million over the next two years.
Towns, villages, some school districts and the county will create a “virtual store” where municipalities can rent equipment and services from each other, such as graffiti-removal trucks, pump-out boats, surveying and sign making.
Officials also say the bulk of the savings would come by combining purchasing power on items including uniforms, trucks and salt.
Government officials including the 10 town supervisors along with 19 village mayors, four school districts and the county executive voted 34 to 0 at the West Sayville Country Club, or participated by video conference.
“Just because we have 100-plus governments in this county doesn’t mean we can’t act as one,” said Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman, who led the consolidation effort for the county.
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said Tuesday that while he supported the plan, it was only “playing around the edges” because personnel costs make up about 70 percent of expenses.
Towns could save millions of dollars if they could join the county’s health plan, Walter said. The county pays about $21,000 a year for a worker and family, compared with $28,000 for the state plan that towns must provide for their employees.
The municipal leaders voted Tuesday to look at sending a bill to the State Legislature next year that would allow municipalities to join the county’s health plan.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo included the cost-sharing plans in the state’s budget passed earlier this year as a way to combat increasing property taxes. School districts, which account for about two-thirds of residential property tax bills, weren’t required to participate, but some expressed interest in joining the shared services plan.
Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said, “We are encouraged by the hard work showcased by County Executive Bellone and the Suffolk County leaders. We look forward to reviewing any plan that reduces inefficiency and delivers real savings to New Yorkers.”
Nassau’s Shared Services Panel is expected to vote on the county’s plan Wednesday in Bethpage.
SUFFOLK CONSOLIDATION PLAN
Suffolk officials say a shared municipal services plan passed Tuesday save a total of $37 million over two years. Some examples of savings:
- Joint purchase of emergency radio equipment for East Hampton Town, village and the Village of Sag Harbor, to save $2.3 million.
- Consolidating village tax collection services in Brookhaven Town, saving $106,000.
- Consolidating tax assessment services in Brookhaven, to save $52,000.
Source: Suffolk County