Shared Services: Columbia County Shows Positive Results
by Matt Murell, Chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors
Three years into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s County-Wide Shared Services Initiative. I am happy to report that Columbia County is showing positive results, with the promise of more to come.
The initiative was designed to, among other things, save taxpayer dollars and provide municipalities the opportunity for state match funding.
It builds upon the property tax cap initiative enacted in 2011, which is estimated to have saved the typical property taxpayer more than $2,000. In addition, it enhances shared services offered by existing local government efficiency programs through the Department of State, according to the state.
The county Board of Supervisors, representatives from the village of Valatie, Philmont, and Kinderhook, and the City of Hudson participated in the strategy session as the plan was under development. In the plan submitted for the year 2017, among the strategies set forth by Columbia County included these inter-municipal agreements between the county and all towns and villages:
- To share Managed Information Services.
- To share Real Property data verification and revaluation services.
- To share Human Resources Training and in servicing on mandatory policies.
- To provide paper and other office supplies.
- To participate in the county’s Administrative Services only for health, medical, and prescription plans.
SOME FACTS AND FIGURES
For the tax year 2017, the sum of property taxes levied by the county, city, towns, villages, school districts, BOCES, and special improvement district came to $336,256,180.
The sum of property taxes levied by those entities represented in the plan development came to $76,142,792.
The anticipated net savings for the year 2018 are $1,880,000, or $55.88 in savings to the average taxpayer.
To date, the largest savings have been realized in #2 shown above, in particular through tax assessment revaluations, which have always proven especially costly in the data collection process.
With town and villages now able to make use of county real property personnel to perform those services, the cost of performing a revaluation of its assessment books has been drastically reduced.
For example, for a medium sized town the original cost might have been expected as around $100,000, but by using county Real Property services, the cost is anticipated as approximately $12,000. Currently 4 to 5 towns are looking into using the county service.
While it has taken some time to align the necessary resources, savings realized through Management Information Services are beginning to take off, as assistance is provided to municipalities through the establishment of websites, email programs, and other technologies.
Further savings are coming through county Controller’s office, which will offer such services as an annually mandated justice court forensic audit in towns and villages, and through county Human Resources. County Human Resources will offer training to the municipality’s policy, as well as analyze it for updates.
In the meantime, the county and its municipalities continue to explore additional avenues for savings.
Matt Murell is the chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors. Reach him at email@example.com.