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Poughkeepsie... Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro has submitted the Dutchess County County-Wide Shared Services Tax Savings Plan to the Dutchess County Legislature. The plan represents several months of work by the Shared Service Panel, comprised of local city, town and village executives, as well as representatives from several school districts and BOCES convened by the County Executive to develop a plan mandated by a provision of the 2017-18 New York State Budget. The proposed plan can be found online at County Wide Shared Service Initiative.
The County-Wide Shared Services Tax Savings Plan features 35 projects that collectively can provide over $25 million in taxpayer savings in 2018 and 2019 if all projects are successfully implemented. The plan features a broad spectrum of projects including shared salt and paving material purchasing, motor vehicle repair, website development and maintenance, shared court facilities, Drug Task Force efforts, municipal solar farms and much more. The projects range from two municipalities partnering together to county government-led projects with multiple local municipalities and school districts partnering in shared efforts. The plan even includes a regional project with Dutchess and Ulster counties partnering to expand their Conflict Defender Swap program into Family Court, projected to save nearly $70,000 over the two-year period.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised matching funds for shared service projects where eligible. Dutchess County will seek to draw down these promised funds to provide greater taxpayer relief as soon as New York State provides eligibility guidelines.
Dutchess County Government has long been a leader in shared service and consolidation efforts, having reduced the size of county government over several years and cutting the county property tax levy each year for the last three years. Key in those efforts has been the Municipal Innovation Grant Program - specifically designed to incentivize municipalities to share service, evaluate consolidation opportunities, establish a regional delivery of services, and implement other efficiencies. Since 2013, County Executive Molinaro and the Dutchess County Legislature have allocated nearly $7 million through the Municipal Innovation Grant Program, funding more than 50 projects.
County Executive Molinaro said, “We have built a culture of collaboration and shared services in Dutchess County that has benefited our residents with greater efficiency and cost savings. This new state imposed mandate was burdensome and unnecessary - a duplication of existing efforts - however, we are grateful to our local and school district leaders who came together to develop this plan. Together, we crafted a plan that serves as a model for communities across New York and, with promised matching funds, can deliver additional tax relief.”
Collectively, the shared services panel spent more than 1,470 hours formulating the County-Wide Shared Services Tax Savings Plan. The plan follows the format required by New York State Division of Budget. The State’s mandated format unrealistically assumes there will be no changes to any of property tax levies for the participating municipalities or the county. Additionally, since the required timeline for the plan submission forced it to be created separate from the municipalities’ and the county’s budget process, it is impossible to accurately represent what the true impact on individual’s or business’s property tax bill may be. The savings reflected in the plan may be offset by other cost increases that are likely to occur such as health insurance or increased state imposed mandate costs.
Town of Rhinebeck Supervisor Elizabeth Spiniza said, “This plan represents a lot of work and time invested by local leaders. Though it was frustrating to be mandated to adhere to the unrealistic format that the State required, I appreciate County Executive Molinaro bringing us all together to continue the strong commitment and momentum we have all made with shared service efforts. Rhinebeck has been proud to partner with Dutchess County on a variety of projects over the years through the Municipal Innovation Grant Program and the Community Development Block Grant program to improve our community and save taxpayer dollars. While most of the projects in this plan are ones we were already developing or would have done in the future, it was a welcome opportunity to collaborate and brainstorm for new ideas, despite the bureaucracy of yet another state mandate.”
The County-Wide Shared Services Tax Savings plan has been submitted for review to the Dutchess County Legislature. The Legislature will hear a presentation on the proposed plan at its August 10th committee meeting. Additionally, there will be three public hearings for residents to learn about the plan and offer their feedback:
Following the public hearings, the shared services panel must approve, modify or disapprove the plan and submit it to the state before the September 15th, 2017 submission.