Following New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address, in which he called for consolidation and efficiency in local governments, the mayor of Glens Falls announced he believes the Warren County city can find savings.
During his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo spoke at length about a mission to freeze and lower property taxes, and touted efficiency and consolidation of local governments as one way communities could save money.
The Pataki-McCall tax relief commission recommended a freeze on property taxes, but only under two conditions: that communities stay within the two percent tax cap, and take steps towards shared services or consolidation to save money.
Governor Cuomo said the state would incentivize reduction of government.
"It's time to stop making excuses, it is time to stop making progress," said Cuomo. "If the locality wants the state property tax credit, it must perform. We've seen that linking state funding to performance works."
In the upstate city of Glens Falls, Mayor John “Jack” Diamond touted recent efforts made to consolidate while delivering information in his State of the City on Friday afternoon.
Diamond highlighted increased shared services with Warren County. In the past year, Ed Bartholomew, a former mayor of Glens Falls, and the city’s economic development director was also named director of EDC Warren County.
Diamond said he’d like Glens Falls to also jointly promote tourism with Warren County.
"I will be proposing to Warren County to work regionally on tourism," said Diamond. "Not the case of eliminating a position, but combining our efforts into one regional organization."
Also last year, the City of Glens Falls and Warren County Sheriff Bud York began discussing plans to consolidate police services. At the same time, the Glens Falls Common Council had asked the Department of Criminal Justice Services to conduct a comprehensive review of the potential of consolidation.
Mayor Diamond said that he cannot ask the Council to make a decision on consolidation, but said he will request that the Department of Criminal Justice Services expedite the review.
"I can't ask [the Council] to make a decision that's going to impact the city for long periods of time without number one - cost - and number two, the comprehensive review."
In 2011, Glens Falls and Warren County reached a deal to consolidate police dispatch services.
Diamond said he also would like to see more collaboration between SUNY Adirondack and Glens Falls schools, and increased involvement with the neighboring community of South Glens Falls, which sits in Saratoga County. Diamond is also seeking more regional involvement with the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Paul Sausville said that while areas consolidation of local governments can be found, many county-delivered services are run by volunteers.
"There is only so much that can be done in terms of consolidation," said Sausville. "But I would say that where we can, we have to consolidate and save the taxpayers' moneysworth where it is possible."
Sausville commented that the state government needs to do its part to reduce unfunded mandates to also ease tax burdens on homeowners.