County-wide shared service plans being submitted to county legislative bodies on August 1st
July 31, 2017 - For Immediate Release.
August 1st is the first deadline under the county-wide shared services initiative enacted by state leaders less than four months ago.
is the first deadline under the county-wide shared services initiative enacted by state leaders less than four months ago.
Under the terms of a 2017-18 State Budget, which was adopted on April 3rd
, county executives and administrators convened panels of local government leaders and held public hearings in order to develop county-wide shared service plans that are scheduled to be delivered to county legislative boards tomorrow.
“This was a fairly complicated law, requiring a lot of moving pieces in a short period of time with sometimes inconsistent guidance from state officials,” said Stephen J. Acquario. “While local governments have been sharing an array of services and functions for some time, they came together again this summer to discuss what other opportunities may exist for lowering costs and improving efficiencies.”
More work needed at the State level to reduce property taxes
“While the goal of this legislation was to reduce property taxes, there is still work to be done. The biggest cost drivers for property taxes in this state are schools and state mandates, and they were largely unaddressed by these panels,” said NYSAC President William E. Cherry.
According to NYSAC, 9 state mandates cost the same as the entire county property tax levies collected statewide outside of New York City, which was not included in the state's shared services initiative.
Additionally, nearly 65 percent of the average property taxes paid by homeowners and business is the school property tax. School district participation on the shared services panel was voluntary, while county, city, town, and village participation was mandatory.
Building on past efforts
This year's law builds on previous state laws requiring local governments to explore and identify cost savings opportunities. In 2014, state leaders enacted the property tax freeze rebate program, which required all local governments and school districts to submit government efficiency plans on June 1, 2015. Those efficiency plans were to supposed to generate property tax savings in years 2017, 2018, and 2019.
“We tabulated those estimated savings to be nearly $2 billion in government efficiency over that three year period beginning this year,” said NYSAC President William E. Cherry.
In 2011, the State enacted a property tax cap, which limits the property tax levy increases to the lesser of 2 percent or the consumer price index. All but two of the five years since 2012 have been under two percent.
Qualifying for State Matching Funds
According to the law, the county plan “may” be eligible for one time funding to match savings in the plan, subject to appropriation and discretion of the state budget director. Only net savings between local governments would be eligible for matching funding. Each county and all the local governments within the county that are part of any action to be implemented as part of the approved plan must collectively apply for the matching funding and agree on the distribution and use of any matching funding to qualify for such funding.
Tight deadlines forcing some counties to submit in 2018
It is expected that several county-wide shared service panels are deciding to submit their shared service plans in 2018, instead of 2017, to take the additional time allotted in the state law to develop a more comprehensive plan than they could develop this summer.