May 18, 2014

Governor inspires renewed shared-services effort

Suddenly there is talk about consolidation. Bring it on.

Just a couple of years ago, it was almost impossible to get some local politicians in the same room together. Now, the Town of Plattsburgh is sitting down with the city to figure out how we can save money by working together. The city, town and county are looking to share other services, and each is now considering how it can reduce various office costs like photocopying and scanning. And even Beekmantown and the City of Plattsburgh’s school superintendents supported a study to look for ways to reduce costs by sharing services between them.

Cynics among us might conclude that this is simply a feel-good exercise designed to go through the motions but with no real intention of changing anything. I disagree. Some real savings are surely going to occur, even if they might not yet be large. And, it is that first step down a path along which no politician has dared venture up to now.

This is a process. It is one that people like Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and Sen. Betty Little have been encouraging, and even offering seed funds, for many years. However, while those carrots seemed insufficient to foment real change, Gov. Cuomo carries a big stick. It looks like his furious waving of his tax-cap club is actually working.

Of course, some call the governor’s proposal an electioneering gimmick. Others predict the demise of the Civil Service. But then again, still others applaud the governor for going where few others dared tread. They are looking at the tax rates of other states and lamenting that it is very difficult to attract young people when our local tax rate in upstate New York, as a share of our income, is the highest in the nation, by far.

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