The $20 million state grant awarded recently to Brookhaven is more than the payoff for winning a statewide competition to encourage local governments to share services, consolidate and increase efficiencies. It’s really a down payment on the opportunity for Long Island to remake itself and reduce taxes for its residents.
That’s big. Really big.
The ball is now in the court of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, who spearheaded Brookhaven’s proposal, and he’s got all sorts of good ideas, including the overarching one: It’s time to change the structure of government and how it delivers services.
Brookhaven plans to continue to consolidate special districts, like erosion, sewer and water districts, and offer its tax collection services to villages and school districts in the town. It’s going to enter into similar agreements for bulk purchases of sand, salt and the like. It plans to use some of the $20 million to buy equipment it can share with villages — like street sweepers, a machine that vacuums leaves out of storm drains, and a garbage truck to pick up recyclables from the 23 school districts in Brookhaven — and to build a truck wash at the town landfill for school district buses and public works trucks. The list includes sharing information technology and consolidating cybersecurity.
All of it has the potential to cut the cost of government with the savings passed on to taxpayers. But local governments and school districts must follow suit and actually cut taxes, not use the savings to increase spending elsewhere.
Romaine says he hopes the experiment is a model for the state. We hope all of Long Island is paying attention.