Washington County supervisors OK shared services plan to save thousands

FORT EDWARD — The Washington County Shared Services Panel voted on Friday in favor of adopting the county’s Shared Services Plan.

“All 13 supervisors in attendance voted in favor of the plan,” said Administrator Chris DeBolt on Friday afternoon. “The plan will be submitted to the state later today.”

According to DeBolt, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s County-Wide Shared Services Initiative generates property tax savings by enabling collaboration between local governments across the state.

Washington County’s recently approved plan focuses on shared services for property revaluation in six towns and shared public works services.

The property revaluation initiative is projected to save $201,720 among the towns of Dresden, Easton, Fort Edward, Jackson, Salem and White Creek.

“The six participating towns are each getting revaluation services from one contractor hired by the county. Each town will work independently with the contractor and ultimately will have the final decision as to whether or not to accept the final revaluation recommendations of the consultant,” DeBolt said.

Currently, the six towns are significantly below 100% equalization for their property assessment rolls and need a comprehensive revaluation.

According to New York state real property tax law it requires annual equalization rates be established for each county, city, town and village and they are calculated each year to reflect that year’s assessment roll and current market values for each assessing unit.

The equalization rate for Dresden for example is 46%, a revaluation could reflect a $17,000 savings for the town.

And by sharing services, rather than each town doing an RFP individually, they were grouped together in one large RFP to make the project more attractive to consultants, DeBolt said.

“By doing this, we have been successful in getting a much better price per parcel than what the towns likely would have paid should they have contracted individually for these services,” he said.

The county has received responses to the RFP and have a consultant in mind, however, DeBolt said, adding that they are waiting for a Minority/Women Business Enterprise waiver from the Department of State because none of the responding consultants met the requirements that were part of the grant they received to help fund the project.

“The hope is that the waiver will be received from DOS in the next two weeks or so and then we will move forward with awarding the contract,” he said. “Work on the revaluation project should start in early 2020, if all goes according to plan.”

As part of this year’s approved shared services plan, each of the 17 towns and eight villages would share services with the county for the maintenance and improvement of the county’s 286 miles of roads.

On a conservative basis, it is estimated that at least $100,000 in savings can be realized between the county and municipalities, according to the plan.

As an example, when the county is paving a county road in a particular town, the county will coordinate with the local highway superintendent to see if the town or village is in need of paving in an adjacent area. The county could deploy its paver and paving crew.

According to the shared services plan, the savings to both the county and the town or village could be significant.

“Supervisor Skellie (Jay Skellie, Jackson) indicated this morning that five municipalities in southern part of the county are willing to purchase a hot patch mixer together and then they are going to track the usage and bill the towns,” said DeBolt during the meeting. “Actually that’s a perfect example of shared services.”

Source:  The Post Star

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