OSWEGO, NY – Included in the recently passed state budget is a revenue budget bill. Part BBB is a county-wide shared services property tax savings plan.
“This is a mandate from the state,” County Administrator Phil Church told the legislators at Thursday night’s legislature meeting.
The chief executive officer of each county, outside of a city of one million or more, shall prepare a property tax savings plan for shared, coordinated and efficient services among the county, cities, towns and villages within the county, he explained.
The plan may also include school districts and boards of cooperative educational services and special improvement districts within the county (if they have a representative on the shared services panel).
The shared services panel shall consist of the chief executive officer of the county (the chair) and one representative from each city, town and village.
The panel will accept input from the public as well as from civic, business, labor and community leaders.
To facilitate such input, three or more public hearings shall be scheduled within the county.
The property tax savings plan shall include such things as the elimination of duplicated services; shared services such as joint purchases; shared storage facilities; shared plowing services and more.
“We’ll need to examine all county, town, city and village services,” Church said. “We have to develop a shared services plan and have it done by Aug. 1.”
A majority vote of the panel shall be required for approval of the plan.
A public presentation of the plan will be done no later than Oct. 15, 2017.
If the county doesn’t achieve an approved county-wide shared services property tax savings plan by the deadline required for 2017, the county would have to follow the same procedures in an attempt to form a plan for 2018.
“We have to move fast on this because of the timeline,” Church said, adding a meeting on the plan will be held in early May.
“Duplication of services is costing us a fortune. We have some of the highest property taxes in the United States. The idea of so many towns and villages is so costly, that it is burdening us to death,” Legislator Marie Schadt said.
“I think everybody in Oswego County knows that I’ve been in favor of shared services and consolidation since this was first brought up a little over a year ago,” Legislator Frank Castiglia added. “I think this is great. I hope that everybody gets onboard with it. I hope they come up with savings for all the taxpayers.”