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New York Counties Move Forward With Shared Services

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has mandated county governments to find ways to cut spending by consolidating overlapping services in their jurisdictions.  Progress is being made in two local counties.

In Columbia County, the Board of Supervisors last week approved a plan that includes sharing IT services, real property and human resources personnel, and establishes a countywide purchasing agreement for procuring office supplies. County Chief Auditing Officer Ron Caponera says his panel got the measure approved in spite of a self-imposed short timeframe.    "But we accomplished it. We had 18 town supervisors on the panel. Three village representatives and a representative from the city of Hudson, so they're on the panel. All but one unanimously passed. I'm projecting $1.8 million, $1,880,000, might as well say $1.9 million tax savings."

To the north, Albany County's shared services plan is in the final stages. County Executive Dan McCoy says input from school districts and BOCES was included in plan design.  "Some of the consolidations we talked about which was really number one was health care going out to bid, everyone being on one health care together. A school district like Voorheesville wanted us to take over their bus maintenance, and so we came up with a variety of good ways that we can consolidate and save money and save money for the taxpayers of Albany County."

The plan is projected to save more than $10 million by 2019. McCoy, who must hold a public presentation of his final plan by mid-October, expects its implementation to foster additional shared service initiatives.

Back in Columbia County, Caponera notes that an unofficial shared services program has also been status quo for years. As for any obstacles to expansion:   "Another thing is, a couple of the things that we're looking for, really we're throwing it back in the state's hands, state legislators’ hands, to change some of the legislation that might eliminate some of the roadblocks. One of those would be in health insurance because the county is what we call ASO, which is totally self-funded administrative services only but state law prohibits smaller municipalities less than 50 employees from participating in ASO's, but we put it in our plan, so we'll throw that right back at the state."

Officials decided to review the plan in one year's time to see if it needs tweaking.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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