MAYVILLE – Municipalities across Chautauqua County are continuing to work together in the new year to “share services” that officials say in the end save taxpayers money.
The effort is part of a New York State program that encourages local governments to improve efficiencies and lower taxes. Locally, several projects will happen this year with the goal of doing just that.
“Every year as a state requirement, New York State requires that the county submit what’s known as a ‘County Wide Shared Services Plan,’ explains Wurster. “And through this initiative that the state created, the Chief Executive Officer, which is the County Executive of each of the counties, is meant to create a panel which entails all mayors and supervisors from cities, towns, and villages to meet together to come up with projects that would be included within this plan.”
As Chautauqua County’s Planning Coordinator Rebecca Wurster explains, this panel, assembled by County Executive P.J. Wendel, is to meet twice a year to come up with projects for the plan.
“Chautauqua Counties 2021 plan has nine projects in that plan. And what’s required of those projects is that they need to be implemented in 2022 to receive any benefits of state matching funds,” says Wurster. “So the state will allow projects that are implemented in 2022 that are within this plan to actually apply for state matching funds of the savings that would occur due to the shared service.”
Wurster continues that 95 percent of the savings of the shared services could be matched by the state to the municipalities that are conducting the shared service.
Projects include shared equipment purchases, shared assessors, shared code-enforcement officers, dredging creeks.
“Code enforcement is something that we’ve been looking at county-wide and how we can do that better,” says Wurster. “We have an older age group of code enforcement officers who are retiring out and we need to think about the future of how we staff our code enforcement, how we work together, how we possible share technology that’s similar across the municipality.”
Though different municipalities working together to save money has been done unofficially in the area for some time, the new requirements allow more projects to be executed with state-funding.
The panel was created in 2017, but at that time their plan did not make much of an impact. This plan covered a three-year span that focused on thinking big and thinking long term. Many of the projects within the plan were aspirational and did not get implemented.
However, Wurster says how the current plan will help the county recover from hardship brought on by the pandemic and beyond.
The project, officials say, will generate an estimated tax savings of $507,976 in 2022 and/or beyond.