Montgomery County officials are moving forward with a state-mandated initiative to save money through shared-service agreements, as part of the county’s 2018 fiscal plan.
State legislators hammered out a budget last session that requires counties to generate and implement shared-service initiatives resulting in property tax savings. Built into the state’s 2018 budget are funds to match whatever is saved on the county level, a clause the state hopes will incentivize maximize savings.
The plan, officially called the Countywide Shared Services Initiative, requires the creation of county committees led by county executives or managers. The mayors of every city and town in a county and the supervisors of every village therein are also required to be members of the panels. Optional members include representatives of school districts, provided they’re invited to participate by the county executive or manager.
Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort’s office said a vote will likely be taken on the plan by members of the panel next week. First, however, the county is required to conduct a series of public hearings on the shared services plan.
Ossenfort said that, at the first public hearing on Sept. 5 in Amsterdam, the panel shared its ideas to create a shared municipal building in Canajoharie, to consolidate of the town and village of Canajoharie, to modernize the county’s information technology infrastructure and to overhaul its electronic records management system.
Ossenfort said he and other county officials have met twice with state officials about possible state funding for the shared municipal building, which, Ossenfort said would bring long-term savings but would require state assistance up front.
“We’re talking through the details to get an idea on what savings can be locked in, and they’re going to qualify us for grants, and that’s some of the details we’re working through,” Ossenfort said.
The creation of a shared municipal building would also allow the county to consolidate its various courts, which is another priority for the county, Ossenfort said.
County officials are also working with officials in the village and town of Canajoharie on a consolidation plan, which would involve dissolution of the village and its police department. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office would assume police duties in the village under the plan, a move that would save $330,000 in the first year, according to estimates by Ossenfort’s office.
In addition to the shared services plan mandated by the state, Montgomery County Senior Planner Bill Roehr said officials are pursuing a number of smaller grants that would allow them to pursue other shared services initiatives through the state’s municipal construction fund.
“Certainly well north of $5 million, and maybe quite a bit more,” said Roehr, of how much grant funding the county is seeking.
The final public hearing on the shared services plan will begin at 6 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Canajoharie Village Hall, 75 Erie Blvd. in Canajoharie.
The panel must vote on the shared services plan by Sept. 15. If the plan is approved, Ossenfort will send it to the state Division of Budget for certification and present the finalized plan to the public. If the plan fails to pass, Ossenfort will release a report to the public that includes how each panel member voted and why, after which efforts will begin to come up with a new plan as part of the 2018 budget, he said.