Poughkeepsie... Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus has received notification from the New York State Local Government Efficiency & Competitiveness Commission that a proposal submitted by Dutchess County has been selected for state assistance. The Shared Court Facilities proposal was submitted by the County on behalf of the local communities of LaGrange and Pleasant Valley.
According to County Executive Steinhaus, “The County has a long history of providing leadership and working together with our local municipalities to improve services for residents and strengthen our communities. We were pleased to support and facilitate the Shared Court Facilities proposal suggested by the towns of LaGrange and Pleasant Valley as part of Dutchess County’s participation in this new state initiative.”
At County Executive Steinhaus’ direction, Betsy Brockway, Director of the County’s Health and Human Services Cabinet, facilitated Dutchess County’s application. Mrs. Brockway surveyed the county’s mayors and supervisors for project ideas. Both Pleasant Valley and LaGrange submitted the shared court initiative and would welcome the participation of other interested Towns for a possible shared facility along the Taconic Parkway corridor. Other projects suggestions submitted to the NYS Local Government Commission included shared municipal agreements for equipment to address storm water legislation, development of shared recreational facilities and collaborative bids for ambulance services.
LaGrange Town Supervisor Jon Wagner and Pleasant Valley Town Supervisor Jeff Battistoni were quick to respond to the County Executive’s request for project ideas with their suggestion for shared Courtroom Facilities. They believed the idea of town governments taking advantage of shared courtroom facilities made good fiscal sense. According to Supervisor Wagner, “Our court is quickly outgrowing our existing town hall space. In addition, we are faced with new state policies requiring improved courtroom security enhancements that many town hall facilities cannot currently physically or financially support.” Shared facilities would allow town governments to pro-rate leases and energy costs, equipment upgrades and possibly share security personnel, which is more cost effective and efficient for part-time courts. Supervisor Wagner said, “My hope is that by getting the State’s attention on this issue with Pleasant Valley and other towns, we will ultimately save our property taxpayers money.”
The state’s Local Government Commission, working with an Interagency Task Force, asked local government leaders in April to identify initiatives they would like to advance in 2007 related to government merger, consolidation, regionalized government, shared service and smart growth. The Office of Court Administration will be the lead state agency in providing assistance and coordinating assistance from other state agencies with regard to the shared court facility proposal.
“This initiative is just one more great example of the strong partnerships we have forged with our local municipalities so we can work together to serve the needs of our residents and continue to enhance the quality of life for our communities,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.