September 14, 2018
On September 13, 2017, the Albany County Shared Services and Taxpayer Savings Panel (the panel) by a twenty to zero vote adopted an Eight-Point Shared Services and Property Tax Savings Plan (the plan), as required by Part BBB of Chapter 59 of the State Laws of 2017, known as the “County-Wide Shared Services Initiative.” Under the law, every county had to convene a shared services panel to develop a Shared Services and Taxpayer Savings Plan.
Since the adoption of the plan by this unanimous vote, the team assembled by Albany County has been working diligently to implement the approved plan. The county has already made several announcements regarding meeting plan benchmarks. In the course of working on the plan, the panel found that implementation teams identified additional areas of potential savings. As work progressed, some on the panel indicated that it would be in taxpayers’ interest to allow more time to implement the plan in order to maximize benefits to residents. Additionally, several new savings proposals were raised for the panel to consider. Therefore, we are withdrawing and resubmitting the plan to the state. We have held three additional public hearings and submitted the amended plan to the county to review to comply with state shared services law.
For plan modification, we persisted in adhering to the county executive’s directive that our approach be driven from the bottom-up, and that every community be heard. Albany County has three cities, ten towns, six villages, twelve school districts, twenty fire districts, and fifty-three special town-run districts (lighting, sewer, etc.). This makes individual outreach a challenge — but one that is critical to the success of the plan. We thank the local representatives for their continued assistance in working with the team to fine-tune the shared services panel’s existing plan.
The county implementation team, as well as the teams from the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the Benjamin Center, have convened a series of implementation meetings in areas ranging from the health consortium to energy efficiency. Team members have met with the panel and municipalities as a group various times since September 15, 2017, and are in the process of meeting individually with municipalities to refine savings estimates. Those updated estimates are found below.
After working with municipalities, school districts, and subject-matter experts, we were able to refine several proposals, as well as add three new proposals to the plan. In some cases, although not directly applicable with compliance under the state process, yet important to expand shared services nonetheless, several proposals have been refined to extend beyond Albany County’s borders to other local governments outside the county. It is a testament to the continued hard work of the panel.
Even with conservative estimates and the narrowing of one proposal, when fully implemented this plan contains $10,215,500 in total annual savings. This is a more than 5 percent increase in the overall savings than included in the plan last year. Given the new proposals and greater savings, the resubmission to the state is in the Albany County taxpayers’ interest. Over time, with more complete data, additional opting in, and with the potential addition of proposals not yet formally adopted by the panel, we expect the savings to grow considerably.