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Panel Endorses Draft Shared Services Plan

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Panel Endorses Draft Shared Services Plan

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Based on discussion and input received during three months of deliberation, the Tompkins County Shared Services Panel today reached consensus on the first draft of a Tompkins County Shared Services Plan. 

Under New York State’s County-wide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Plan Law, County Administrator Joe Mareane, who chairs the panel made up of town and village leaders from throughout the county, must forward a plan to the County Legislature for review by August 1st, then submit a Final Plan, including certified savings, to the State by September 15th.

The draft plan, prepared by Administrator Mareane, indicates that the Panel has failed to identify any “low-hanging fruit” that would produce significant, recurring new property tax savings, noting that Tompkins County, as a pioneer in the area of shared services, has already accomplished so much, including examples now being cited by the State for counties to consider. A wide range of shared services initiatives, the draft notes, currently produce documented annual savings in excess of $4 million.

The Panel, however, recommends several smaller shared services proposals as part of the County’s Shared Services Plan:

  • Creation of a Tompkins County Council of Governments Training Academy as a vehicle to provide affordable, high quality training to all local governments within the County. Operated by Tompkins Cortland Community College, the Academy would offer a curriculum of training desired by, and beneficial to, all local governments regardless of size.
  • Creation and maintenance of a Service Modernization Plan by the County for use by all municipalities, to facilitate through software automation of a number of routine paper-intensive tasks currently done by hand.
  • Creation and management of a purchasing pool to facilitate lowest-cost acquisition of contemporary financial software for municipalities that desire it.
  • Acquisition and operation by Tompkins County of a countywide mass notification system available to all municipalities in the County.
  • Creation and management of a purchasing pool to facilitate conversion of street lights to high-efficiency LED fixtures for municipalities interested.
  • Expansion of the Greater Tompkins County Municipal Health Insurance Consortium in 2018. The plan maintains that re-constituting the Consortium into virtually a new organization to add additional members justifies its inclusion in Tompkins’ plan, as well as those of new member governments. 

In addition, the Shared Services Plan identifies several larger possibilities for in-depth review and analysis, beyond the deadlines set by the State. Examination of centralized back-office administrative services (such as payroll, purchasing, accounts payable, tax collection, and information technology support) is one area recommended for further study. As envisioned, such services could be provided to interested municipalities—either through a centralized unit hosted by the County or through TST BOCES, which offers such functions to area school districts. 

Other areas identified for potential examination include centralization of the code enforcement function; a collaborative approach to optimize capacity of the Cayuga Heights and City of Ithaca Wastewater Treatment Plants; centralized fleet maintenance; and consideration of a centralized approach to meet increased stormwater management requirements.

Administrator Mareane will refine the draft, incorporating estimated annual savings, prior to a public hearing on the proposed plan. That session, the second of three public hearings required by the State, will take place before the Panel July 19th, 5:30 p.m., at County Legislature Chambers, located at the Governor Daniel D. Tompkins Building, 121 E. Court Street, Ithaca. 

Read the full draft Plan, posted on the Shared Services Initiative website at www.tompkinscountyny.gov/ctyadmin/sharedserviceinitiative.