Plan to Modernize Local Government Services Expected to Save Taxpayers More Than $120 Million Over Next Ten Years
Competition Provides Innovative Approach to Reduce Property Taxes
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Town of Brookhaven in Suffolk County as the winner of the first Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition, earning the $20 million award to reduce property taxes and modernize services. The winning plan is expected to produce savings of more than $120 million for Suffolk County taxpayers over the next ten years.
"High property taxes are a burden that far too many New Yorkers must bear and we will continue to deliver innovative solutions to keep taxes down without sacrificing the services they provide," Governor Cuomo said. "I congratulate Brookhaven for putting forth a creative plan to better serve their community and crafting an innovative model to save taxpayer dollars."
The Town of Brookhaven has a population of more than 488,000 spread throughout nine villages and more than 110 special districts. In addition to supporting the dissolution of the Village of Mastic Beach, Brookhaven will undertake the following actions:
- Consolidation or dissolution of at least 24 special improvement districts
- Consolidation of tax collection services
- Consolidation of Department of Public Works operations within the villages
- Consolidation of third-party billing for the nine town ambulance districts
- Construction of a Regional Ash Monofill and Ash Recycling (EAR) Facility
- Establishment of a shared information technology platform for consolidated and cloud-based services and cyber-security
- Town-wide records storage and archive management
The MCEC was designed to empower counties and other local governments to reduce the number of local governments, pursue opportunities for increased shared services, and implement local government modernizations to reduce the property tax burden.
The statewide competition among cities, towns, or villages with a population of more than 50,000 residents, or a county government resulted in six finalists. A state panel headed by New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado selected Brookhaven as the winner, noting that its plan:
- Reduces the overall number of local governments
- Demonstrates innovation
- Is expansive in breadth and scope
- Impacts the most individuals
- Saves taxpayers' money
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Congratulations to the Town of Brookhaven for putting forth a forward-thinking plan to reduce the burden on taxpayers. This competition brings out the best in our communities, where leaders collaborate to find efficiencies and better serve their residents and businesses. The Department of State will continue to work with municipalities across the state to develop and implement efficiency plans that generate positive impacts for the citizens of New York."
Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, "Under the leadership of Supervisor Ed Romaine, the Town of Brookhaven has set out a wide-ranging plan that will streamline governmental operations to reduce costs without impacting services for their residents. This plan, in addition to earning the town this award, should serve as an example of effective government reform for other towns throughout our state to emulate. Congratulations to everyone at the Town for their impressive plan that will benefit all the residents of Brookhaven."
Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli, Chair of the Assembly's Committee on Local Government, said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for once again fostering the best plans possible from communities seeking to reduce the burden on taxpayers. The Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County should be proud today, as should all the participants in this program, which fostered new ideas to combine efforts and services to better serve residents and businesses."
Assemblyman Dean Murray said, "For years Supervisor Edward Romaine and Brookhaven Town Officials have led the charge with being efficient with tax payers' dollars. I am happy the Governor has recognized the Town's efforts and efficiencies and is supporting their continued efforts."
Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said, "This grant will help us in our efforts to make government more efficient and effective, saving the taxpayers millions of dollars in the long run. At the heart of this grant is the need to share services and reduce costs. Working together in partnership with our local villages, schools, libraries and fire districts, this grant will ensure that we provide the most cost-effective government for our residents. Although this was a competitive process, we felt our grant application was the best in the state, and we're thrilled that Governor Cuomo agreed. I want to thank the Governor and all the local municipalities we partnered with for this grant, and look forward to working with them in saving taxpayer dollars for our mutual constituents."
In addition to the Town of Brookhaven, other finalists included Chautauqua, Otsego, Madison, Ulster, and Montgomery counties. The Department of State will continue to work with these finalists to identify other opportunities for project support. Some unique proposals from these finalist consortiums included:
- Initial planning for a potential four-town consolidation in Otsego County;
- Countywide fire services analysis and specific fire district consolidations and re-alignments in Chautauqua County;
- Establishment of a regional court facility and local government center, as part of a larger economic development initiative to re-claim the former Beechnut Office complex in the Village of Canajoharie in Montgomery County; and,
- Creation of the Regional Solutions Commission in Chautauqua County to serve as a standing forum to identify long-term strategies for government innovation and efficiency.
The MCEC encourages local governments to design a comprehensive plan that includes opportunities for consolidation and shared services. The submitted plans were evaluated by a panel consisting of Secretary Rosado, Department of Civil Service Executive Deputy Commissioner Lola Brabham, NYS Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew Driscoll, NY Department of Motor Vehicles Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan, NY Division of Tax Appeals Commissioner Dede Scozzafava, and NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Sabrina Ty. To learn more about the MCEC and evaluation process, please visit the Department of State's website.
The MCEC is one of a series of initiatives established by the Governor targeting high property taxes. Beginning with the property tax cap, and including a series of competitive grant programs, Governor Cuomo is empowering taxpayers to engage with and demand more from local governments. Programs aimed at reducing the cost of government instituted by the Governor include the $25 million Municipal Restructuring Fund, the $4 million Local Government Efficiency grants program and the County-wide Shared Services Initiative (CWSSI) launched in 2017.
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