Smithtown Town Clerk, Vinny Puleo is awarded a Shared Services Grant for Department Consolidation
Smithtown Town Clerk and Nesconset Fire Commissioner Vinny Puleo was awarded a grant, over $129,000, for the consolidation of services that are projected to save money for the town. The shared services program is growing to be a statewide initiative to benefit cities and towns.
The grant, administered by the New York State Archives Grant Distribution Unit, is part of a multi-phase effort in modernizing records storage and access on a shared services basis. Shared services prevent duplicative costs that overlap within towns and municipalities.
“We’re saving taxpayers $30,000 a year, sharing Town dispatch services and fueling our vehicles through the Town fueling station which eliminates all tank maintenance costs. This latest grant will save substantial taxpayer dollars in startup cost and man hours weekly for each fire department, which includes Nesconset, St. James and Three Villages,” Puleo said.
The first shared services project was established in 2011 in the Town of Saugerties, where the Village of Saugerties contracted with the Town to consolidate the police department.
“Not only has the consolidation saved money, but the combined department became a NYS Accredited Police Agency in 2013, enhancing our service,” said Town of Saugerties Police Chief Joseph A. Sinagra. His program saved $150,000 and still produces savings today.
Other towns that have done similar programs with significant savings are Town of North Hempstead, City of Poughkeepsie, New Rochelle, and Nassau County.
As Town Clerk, Puleo is known for integrating Town systems into the modern era by devising an electronic records network and efficient operating system. Puleo reformed government transparency by digitizing meeting agendas, minutes, and videos for all Town Boards, making the Town of Smithtown’s website a hub of public record. He is also responsible for the ease of access to obtaining birth, death, and marriage certificates online, via Vitalchek. Puleo has been a volunteer firefighter for 45 years and for the last 24 years he has held the title of Commissioner.
“First and foremost, I want to thank Jennifer Mesiano Higham, a remarkable grant writer, who I originally met through the fire department but came highly recommended by our Public Safety Director John Valentine. For the last three years, we (with John Valentine) have had tremendous success with the shared services we’ve initiated” Puleo said.
The Local Government Efficiency Program, administered by the New York Department of State, provides technical assistance and competitive grants to local governments for projects that will achieve savings and improve municipal efficiency through shared services, cooperative agreements, consolidation and dissolution. According to the State, the goal is to preserve quality services while cutting costs for residents.