After months of information-gathering, analysis, and public hearings, Albany County has finalized its shared services plan, which officials say could save taxpayers nearly $15 million when fully implemented.
"All across the county, in October, there are municipalities that are either in the process or have just completed presenting budgets to their citizenry," said Deputy Albany County Executive Phil Calderone, who opened the Wednesday afternoon presentation of the plan at the downtown Albany County Office Building. “We were very fortunate in this process, to have the involvement of all municipal leaders within the county. Many many of the school districts. The participation of so many different constituencies, like unions and union leaders.”
Formulated with assistance from the Rockefeller Institute of Government and The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz, the plan identifies how local municipalities may share services that result in savings to taxpayers.
It came about because Governor Andrew Cuomo heavily pushed the shared services concept to county governments, mandating they slash spending by consolidating overlapping services in their jurisdictions. "Find ways to do it better and cheaper, purely by co-operating with each other, in a formal way."
Jim Malatras heads the Rockefeller Institute: he says the process was relatively quick, from start-to-finish: "The law was passed in the beginning of April. Pre-planning was done in April through the department of state so the counties had to wait for the state to get their regulations into place. That happened in about May. In the middle of May we came on and immediately began working with the municipalities. We touched every municipality in the county. We had several meetings, et cetera, we submitted a draft plan August 1st to the county legislature who submitted some comments back to us that we put in the final report. We had three public hearings on the matter. One in Colonie, one here and one in Bethlehem for the review."
In September,the shared services panel, made up of various municipality and school district officials and chaired by County Executive Dan McCoy, approved the plan, 20-0. It has been submitted to the state. Malatras calculates that by 2019, annual savings under the plan could reach more than $15 million.
The final adopted action plan includes eight proposals:
(1) Creation of the Albany County Community Choice Aggregation energy program;
(2) Creation of a county health consortium;
(3) Creation of a countywide centralized shared specialty equipment program;
(4) Shared personnel through a centralized process organized by the county;
(5) Creation of additional joint purchasing agreements and centralized contracts for equipment, materials, services, and supplies;
(6) Consolidation of vehicle maintenance and repair services within the county and combining of county, town, and school district vehicle maintenance facilities in Voorheesville, Berne, Knox, and Westerlo;
(7) Consolidation of interpretation/translation services within the county; and,
(8) Retrofitting lights to high efficiency LED lighting.