Hope to have completed by October
By Holly Crocco
The Putnam County Legislature has approved spending $31,000 to hire a consultant to develop a shared-services plan as part of an initiative created last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The plan is expected to be finished by October.
As part of the state budget process, Cuomo asked counties to join a Shared Services Initiative to reduce property taxes by pushing municipalities to work together. To encourage participation, he dangled the possibility of funding from the state that would be equivalent to what was saved.
While County Executive MaryEllen Odell was hesitant in 2017 about creating a shared-services plan, saying the cooperation already existed, in January she said discussions were taking place to put something in effect this year.
Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra (R-Philipstown) cautioned during the June 5 Legislature meeting in Carmel that the creation of a shared-services plan would not be easy.
“It’s a huge initiative,” she said. “You’re talking about the towns and the villages and the whole county — 100,000 people — so it’s a lot to do.”
Scuccimarra noted that some people questioned why a request for proposals was not issued before the county decided to spend $31,000 to hire Laberge Group, a planning and grant consultant based in Albany. She said that because the county will be spending less than $50,000, it falls below the threshold for which an RFP is required.
Legislator Ginny Nacerino (R-Patterson) said the $31,000 is “a very modest fee” for the scope of work. “This is mandated; this is something that we have to do, and we will get it done,” she said.
Legislator Neal Sullivan (R-Mahopac) said that he and his colleagues on the Fiscal Vision and Accountability Commission have been working to find ways to reduce redundancy in government for quite some time.
“It’s something that I know Legislator Nacerino, Legislator Scuccimarra, myself and the county executive have been working on for many years, which is consolidation, shared services, trying to find ways to reduce the cost of government for taxpayers,” he said. “We are finally going to see some real progress over the next couple of months.”