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The Tompkins County Shared Services Panel has recommended a County Shared Services Plan, based on a proposal drafted on behalf of the panel by County Administrator Joe Mareane, from three months of panel deliberations. The Plan was approved at a meeting July 19th and sent on for the next step in the process.

The Shared Services Plan will now be submitted to the County Legislature, through its Government Operations Committee. The Legislature will review the Plan, then return it to the panel for final approval. Under New York State's County-wide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Plan Law, the Final Plan, including certified savings, must be submitted to the State by September 15.

Plan recommendations are consistent with a draft the panel endorsed earlier, with estimated dollar savings now attached. Its six key elements:

  • Creation of a Tompkins County Council of Governments Training Academy as a vehicle to provide affordable, high quality training to all local governments within the County. Estimated savings: $17,000.
  • Creation and maintenance of a Service Modernization Plan by the County for use by all municipalities, to facilitate through software automation of a number of routine paper-intensive tasks currently done by hand. Estimated savings: $50,600.
  • Creation and management of a purchasing pool to facilitate lowest-cost acquisition of contemporary financial software for municipalities that desire it. Estimated savings: $1,000.
  • Acquisition and operation by Tompkins County of a countywide mass notification system available to all municipalities in the County. Estimated savings: $6,500 annually.
  • Creation and management of a purchasing pool to facilitate conversion of street lights to high-efficiency LED fixtures for municipalities interested. Estimated savings: $170,000 annually.
  • Expansion of the Greater Tompkins County Municipal Health Insurance Consortium in 2018. The plan maintains that re-constituting the Consortium into virtually a new organization to add additional members justifies its inclusion in Tompkins' plan, as well as those of new member governments. Estimated savings: $1.75 million annually.
In addition, the Shared Services Plan identifies several larger possibilities for in-depth review and analysis, beyond the deadlines set by the State. Examination of centralized back-office administrative services; potential examination include centralization of the code enforcement function; and a centralized approach to fleet maintenance are among the longer-term review possibilities identified.

At a public hearing before adoption of the recommended plan, the Panel heard from Brian Eden and Bill Evans from the Tompkins County Environmental Management Council, who commented on the plan element related to high efficiency LED street lights. They asked that any such initiative consider and reflect ecological and public health impacts of blue-rich light that research shows can come from these types of fixtures.

Attending the meeting were two representatives from Governor Cuomo's office. Rich Tobe, who serves as deputy director of state operations and director of upstate revitalization, said the County appears to be doing the process well, and the State looks forward to seeing the report. He described the shared services plan process in some other New York counties, noting that 28 other counties are looking toward possible establishment of health insurance consortiums, similar to Tompkins County's

Concluding this stage of the County's Shared Services Plan process, County Administrator Joe Mareane thanked the panel members for their dedication and productive work. "I think we've accomplished a great deal," he said.

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