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Capital Region News

Albany County Government Efficiency Plan Completed

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Albany County officials and 29 local government leaders gathered at the downtown county office building this morning to announce completion of the Countywide Government Efficiency Plan.

The plan, built on municipalities working together and submitted to the state in accordance with the Property Tax Freeze Credit Law, was prepared by the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach at SUNY New Paltz under the leadership of Dr. Gerald Benjamin.     "The process itself has value, as well as the results. I also said that once this happened, we would build upon it for the future. That resources would come to the county and its local governments because of the demonstration to the state government that this collaboration exists. And by the way, it's not mandated, the collaboration doesn't have to occur. Individual local governments could act individually under the law. So this was a choice to collaborate, a choice to produce a report that shows that the savings are in excess of six times what's required by the law. We will build on that."

Full disclosure: Benjamin serves on WAMC’s Board of Directors.

The report details efficiencies, mergers and shared service agreements reached since 2012 by the county and local governments that will realize $15.8 million in annual savings between 2017 and 2019.  County Executive Dan McCoy:   "With all the savings we've done in the past and what we're gonna do in that timeframe, we're gonna save the taxpayers of Albany County 15 million. Six times the amount of money that the state's requesting that we save to get the tax incentive breaks to the taxpayers."

County Comptroller Mike Conners says through collaborative effort, the plan will generate approximately $2.5 million in property tax rebates for homeowners countywide.   "I would look at the report and celebrate some of the tremendous ideas that are in here. There are great ideas that people have shared with us that they've done in their individual municipalities, and I think this is a great report we can share, all of us, in working together. "

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan stressed the interconnectivity among communities, paying tribute to local elected officials as being on the front line - the stewards of taxpayer dollars.   "I don't really care about the tax cap. Our taxes are already too high."

Sheehan wants to lower taxes and get on a more competitive path and drive more economic development to the region.  Conners says there is a "next phase."    "We'll be mapping actually every individual staff person and we'll be sharing that and looking for these ideas to share services and share people."

Sheehan says "we are all interrelated" and the stronger the county is the more attractive the region will be.   "This is not an end. This is a beginning. And I look forward to continuing the work."

Future efficiencies mentioned - expected to save taxpayers nearly $3 million include consolidated dispatch operations between the city of Albany, the county and the towns of Bethlehem and Colonie.

The report can be viewed at the following link: Albany Countywide Government Efficiency Plan

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