Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone recently unveiled SuffolkShare – a ten-point plan developed as part of the Countywide Shared Services Initiative signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and would save approximately $37 million over two years for taxpayers, according to Bellone.
SuffolkShare is designed to transition inter-municipal partnerships from an ad-hoc approach into a modern and collaborative system This will ultimately be achieved by utilizing technology, best practices, performance measurement, and auditing processes to bring governments together when and where tax dollars can be saved while realizing individual municipal goals and objectives.
“SuffolkShare will be a statewide model for how municipalities can work together and save money for their residents without sacrificing the quality of services they have come to expect,” said Bellone. “Governor Cuomo deserves credit for putting local governments in charge of their own destiny and figuring out how best to deliver true efficiencies among themselves.”
SuffolkShare incorporates various ideas generated among county, town and village officials, along with other key stakeholders, that were offered during the course of meetings held over several months. The proposals within identify cost-saving measures without sacrificing the quality of programs and services that the public expects from their local governments.
These are some of the programs that will be created under SuffolkShare:
Virtual Municipal Service Store
A web portal will be created to serve as a virtual menu of municipal services and assets that will be available to participating municipalities – offered from other municipalities.
An assortment of services and assets will be offered from participating municipalities such as tree removal, pump-out boat services, graffiti removal, truck washing, sign shop services, language translation, recycling, fueling stations, mapping, surveying, website development, GIS services, professional training, MWBE certification, purchasing, and more.
An all-encompassing Inter-Municipal Agreement (IMA) will be established that authorizes municipal participation in this program and access to the Virtual Municipal Service Store.
Certification Audit Process
A certification function comprised of an auditing process will identify and quantify savings achieved by the use of the shared services program.
The plan will establish a Data Analysis feature similar to a Customer Management System (CMS) that will measure use, performance, and savings.
A virtual inter-municipal chat room will be created for municipal representatives to engage one another individually or collectively to acquire information, share information, brainstorm ideas on how best to deliver services.
Shared Services Newsletter
A virtual newsletter that will feature successful shared service ideas while providing insight into how to utilize the web portal, virtual municipal store, and all of the features of SuffolkShare. This will ensure best practices are identified and allow municipalities to determine if certain initiatives could benefit their constituents.
Intra-County Projects Program
An Intra-County Projects Program will provide Suffolk County and its local governments the chance to work together to better coordinate services while reducing duplication. Some examples include services for youth, senior citizens, recycling, emergency management, water authorities, grant writing and grant administration, as well as the creation of a new Call Center that would generate data analysis. In addition, the Program will establish a new Suffolk County Procurement Consortium that will offer municipalities the opportunity to save money through more options at a competitive cost.
Inter-County Project Program
A new Inter-County Project Program will enable Suffolk County to identify opportunities with other counties across New York State to achieve potential cost-savings when possible. This includes Adolescent Offender Services, such as identifying jail facilities where 16 and 17 year-olds can be separated from adult offenders consistent with Governor Cuomo’s Raise the Age law.
Office of Inter-municipal Coordination
Through a new Office of Inter-municipal Coordination (OIC), there will be an assignment of personnel to handle inter-municipal activity and communications – achieved through the reassignment of current positions – who will administer SuffolkShare while coordinating monthly subcommittee meetings similar to those initiated as part of the Shared Service Working Group. This will include areas relative to legal services, auditing and control, technology and data analysis, and program offers and development.
The state law requires Suffolk County to submit a localized savings plan to the Suffolk County Legislature by August 1, 2017. Once recommendations are received and modifications are made to the plan, the Suffolk Shared Services Panel must vote on the plan no later than September 15.
If the plan is approved, Suffolk County municipalities would be able to receive one-time matching funds from New York State. The certified savings from the new actions implemented on or after January 1, 2018 are eligible for the matching funds.
There will be three public meetings held throughout the county after August 1, as required by law, before voting on the proposal.