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Brookhaven wins $50G for consolidating services, competes for $20M more

Brookhaven Town has won a $50,000 state grant for consolidating government services — and could receive $20 million more if the town wins a statewide cost-containment competition.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday that Brookhaven and five upstate counties won the first phase of the state’s Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition, which rewards towns, villages and counties for finding innovative ways to cut costs. Brookhaven and the counties were awarded $50,000 each.

Brookhaven will compete with the five counties — Chautauqua, Montgomery, Otsego, Ulster and Madison — for the competition’s $20 million top prize, which will be announced this summer.

In an interview, Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, a Republican, said he agrees with Cuomo, a Democrat, that Long Island’s abundance of special districts drives up property taxes. Cuomo spoke about the issue on Jan. 10 during his State of the State speech in Farmingdale.

Cuomo, in a statement, said the consolidation competition is an attempt to nudge local governments to reduce costs and property taxes.

“The most burdensome tax in New York remains the property tax, and this competition is designed to help local governments work together to cut costs, share services and streamline inefficiencies in order to reduce burdens on property taxpayers,” Cuomo said. “With this next phase of the competition, we will continue to work together to find opportunities to deliver cost-effective services and help lower property taxes.”

Romaine said the $50,000 grant will be used to study consolidation proposals, such as turning over two town sewer districts to Suffolk County.

“We’re going to do a complete analysis, financial and administrative, to see if it works,” Romaine said. “All of these things, we’re looking at every one of them to see what makes sense.”

Romaine said Brookhaven in recent years has shared services such as trash pickup and information technology with villages such as Mastic Beach, Bellport, Port Jefferson, Shoreham and Belle Terre.

Town officials also are studying consolidation of the town’s five water districts and also could combine the six erosion districts that serve Fire Island, Romaine said.

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