Rockland County Unveils Shared Services Plan That Could Save $9.2 Million in 2019; $14M in 2020

Real Estate In-Depth | August 2018

From left, Andy Stewart, PhD, Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, County Executive Ed Day, Village of Suffern Mayor Ed Markunas and Village of Nyack Mayor Don Hammond.

NEW CITY—Rockland County Executive Ed Day on July 27 joined with Shared Services Panel members from towns, villages, school districts and fire districts to unveil the county’s draft Shared Services Initiative Plan.

The current draft of the Plan would save the panel members an estimated $9,161,430 in 2019 and $14,393,430 in 2020. These numbers are preliminary and subject to change depending on the possibility of more school districts and fire districts joining the panel, county officials stated. Panel members may also decide to be added to specific projects that are listed within the plan.

“The purpose of this plan is to explore ways to improve and consolidate services to save our taxpayers money. It was written from the ground up with municipalities and organizations offering suggestions for inclusion, driven by their ideas and I am proud to have worked with them in developing those ideas,” said Rockland County Executive Day.

Last year the Rockland County Shared Services Report was filed with the Rockland County Legislature. That report highlighted areas of interest that were pursued for inclusion in this year’s Shared Services Plan including animal control, highway department equipment sharing, sewer district consolidation and health insurance cost savings (which four of the five towns and 10 villages were interested in exploring).

The process resumed in February of this year and involved weekly meetings with municipalities and districts covering a wide range of topics coordinated by Andy Stewart, senior vice president for research and analysis for Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, the consultants retained by Rockland County to draft the plan, and Stephen J. Powers the director of public policy and intergovernmental relations for Rockland County Executive Day.

“This initiative brought together many parts of local government, from highways to sanitation, law enforcement and finance, to work for the public interest in new ways,” said Jonathan Drapkin, president and CEO of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress. “Facilitating these meetings and helping to develop these plans, knowing they will enhance the quality of life and affordability in Rockland and the Hudson Valley region is exactly the kind of work that Pattern is known for.”

Highlights of the preliminary plan include an estimated $4.5-million savings for pooled retiree health insurance for municipal employees. Another large savings is $1,433,840 for the sharing of equipment between highway departments, such as a “street line paint truck,” for all towns and villages and Rockland County providing municipal engineering services to town and villages for highway and drainage projects.

The Procurement Center for Excellence will be a county-wide purchasing cooperative and will save an estimated $1,008,450. The Sewer District consolidation could save an estimated $1,000,000 in 2019 and $5.4 million in 2020.

There are also smaller but still significant projects like Rockland BOCES possibly contracting with the Villages of Haverstraw and West Haverstraw to provide educational experiences for youth participants of their summer recreational programming; a projected savings of $12,000 in 2019 and $15,000 in 2020. A small project but one that will mean a great deal to the youth who take part. It is hoped that more municipalities will join this project for the benefit of their young people and additional savings.

“That’s the true goal of the Shared Services Initiative, bringing together these different municipalities and organizations to improve services to their residents while saving money,” said Day. “We have heard the concerns of taxpayers loud and clear. As governments, school and fire districts, we must find efficiencies and cost savings whenever possible. These projects may also be eligible for matching funds from New York State.”

The draft plan was submitted to the Rockland County Legislature for review on July 27. The next steps include holding three public hearings on the draft plan. One will be held during the day at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21st in the Town of Stony Point at the RHO Building. The second hearing will be held at Village Hall in Suffern at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5th. The third meeting’s date and location had yet to be finalized at press time.

The certifying and transmission of the approved plan to the state is scheduled by Sept. 15, 2018, and the public presentation of the final proposed plan by Oct. 15, 2018.