Brookhaven Town officials said a $20 million state grant will help them expand efforts to cut taxes by eliminating unnecessary special districts and sharing services with villages.
State officials announced Thursday that Brookhaven had beaten out five upstate counties for the award, the first ever in the state’s Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition, designed to encourage local governments to combine services and eliminate wasteful spending.
Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said the grant would help the town “reinvent” local government and create “a model that the state can use and say, ‘If they can do it in Brookhaven, we can do it elsewhere.’ ”
“This money is not for the town budget,” Romaine said in an interview. “We’re going to focus on using that money on reducing overall property taxes in the Town of Brookhaven by consolidating services and working together, so if we’re not eliminating levels of government, we’re going to work to make those governments more cost-effective and cost-efficient.”
Brookhaven’s bid, submitted a year ago when the competition was announced, was selected by a panel of state officials headed by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado.
The panel said Brookhaven’s bid “demonstrates innovation” and “is expansive in breadth and scope,” noting the town had reduced the number of trash collection and water districts and shared supply purchases with other governmental agencies. This year, Brookhaven absorbed the Village of Mastic Beach after residents voted to disband.
In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo congratulated Brookhaven “for putting forth a creative plan to better serve their community and crafting an innovative model to save taxpayer dollars.”
Romaine said the town could save taxpayers “well over $100 million” by sharing services such as tax collection, cybersecurity, and records and archive storage with villages as well as library, fire and school districts.
Port Jefferson Mayor Margot J. Garant said the village has benefited from “piggybacking” on Brookhaven contracts for buying sand and salt for road crews.
“It does save the little villages money when you can do that,” she said. “It saves us from having to go out to bid. When we use that town contract, it saves us a lot of time and money.”
Romaine said town officials would meet Monday to discuss implementing some consolidation plans as soon as possible.
“When you look at the amount of government and the layers of government that we have, consolidating is the name of the game on Long Island,” Brookhaven Councilman Dan Panico said. “In order for this island to succeed, you’re going to see consolidation into the future.”