County Prepares for Shared Services Initiative

Pooling Services and Manpower for Tax-Dollar Savings

by Tom Walogorsky

On Wednesday, August 2, a public hearing was held at Dover Town Hall to discuss the implementation of the Dutchess County Shared Services Plan. Designed to generate property tax saving by facilitating operational collaboration between local governments, the Shared Services Plan has the potential to make a positive impact on both the Town and Village of Pawling. The plan has already been approved by all county mayors and supervisors. Chaired by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the public hearing was the first in a series of three such events to educate the public and address concerns.

Since 2013, the County Legislature has allocated nearly $7 million through the Municipal Innovation Grant Program, which is designed to incentivize municipalities to consider consolidation opportunities and share services. This initiative has already led to a number of programs that benefit municipalities throughout Dutchess County. These include the purchase of bulk supplies, access to tax-free fuel purchased from New York State for county vehicles, shared IT services between municipalities, and the assistance of the Department of Emergency Response during significant weather events. These programs are all aimed to lower costs and give assistance to individual cities, towns, and villages within the county.

“Dutchess County has, without question, been a leader in shared services, and we have really accelerated that in the last few years,” Molinaro said.

The Town and Village of Pawling have already benefitted from the Dutchess County Shared Services Plan in the form of a development block grant that was awarded for accessibility improvements to Lakeside Park. In the amount of $150,000, this grant allowed for the construction of a sidewalk connecting the street to the existing park sidewalks, crosswalks, handicapped drop-off area and parking, and alterations to the entrance of the main park building.

In all, the plan covers 35 separate initiatives, several of which will have a direct impact on Pawling. Chief among these is the Salt Purchasing Cooperative. This program will allow participating municipalities to purchase road salt at a rate of $75/ton, which represents a significant savings over the previous bid and will net a saving of $608,132 in costs countywide. The Town of Pawling will also be participating in the shared Motor Vehicle Repair program, which will allow town vehicles to be serviced at county repair shops for rates as low as $60/hr.

Furthermore, both the Town and the Village of Pawling will be participating in the countywide Worker’s Compensation Pool. This plan was implemented to invite participation into the county’s self-insured Worker’s Compensation Plan. This, in turn, will provide savings for both the county and local municipalities by pooling risk and providing plan premiums for members at rates that are lower than the open market. This plan will produce a countywide savings of $3,742,782.

Altogether, the Shared Services Plan is projected to provide Dutchess County with $13,877,018 in savings in 2018. In addition, Governor Cuomo has proposed matching funds where eligible, providing further taxpayer relief.

The next public hearings will be held August 30 at 6:00 p.m. at the Wappingers Town Hall, 20 Middlebush Road, Wappingers Falls and August 31 at 10:00 a.m. in the Dutchess County Legislature Chambers, 22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie. Following these hearings, the shared services panel must approve, modify or disapprove the plan and submit it to the state before the September 15, 2017, submission deadline.

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