Counties choose Rochester firm for services study
YATES, SCHUYLER COUNTIES—The Center for Governmental Research (CGR) has been selected to conduct the two-county efficiencies study. The Steering Committee for Exploration and Oversight of Collaboration Opportunities between Yates and Schuyler Counties selected CGR after conducting interviews with five firms over the course of three days last week. The interviews culminated in the selection being made in executive session Friday, April 25 by the group of officials representing both counties.
“The committee met with a number of highly qualified professionals and in the end CGR was chosen because their understanding of our proposed scope of work coupled with their extensive local government experience gave them an edge over other firms,” Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said.
O’Hearn said CGR’s fee for the study is $50,000, which is the amount the counties received for the project through a state grant. The counties had initially asked for $100,000 to conduct the study, but only received half of what they requested. O’Hearn said the study should take “a year or less” to complete.
CGR is a nonprofit out of Rochester who works with government, nonprofit and business leaders who drive public policy action and organizational change. They were interviewed along with Berkshire Advisors, Bond, Schoeneck and King, Management Partners and VMC during the selection process.
Associate Director at CGR Scott Sittig said they have been conducting “the full gamut” of government studies since 1915, having previously conducted work in states including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. He said they have previously worked in both Yates and Schuyler Counties, conducting a study to see the feasibility of consolidating the Penn Yan Police Department with the Yates County Sheriff’s Department, along with the same type of study between the Watkins Glen and Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department.
Sittig said efficiency studies usually create a range of options for counties, looking at things like shared services, back office functions, administrative duties, highway and jail services. He said since both counties are smaller counties, there will be some specific emphasis on highway services, along with working all the way up to the potential for full consolidation of the two counties.
Sittig said efficiencies may not exclusively revolve around cost savings, as many counties have already begun sharing services when “pressured under the tax cap.” He said the study will also look at the quality of services offered to allow each county to make more informed decisions. Sittig said all options are on the table. They have no idea what options they will choose with the legal and political hurdles the counties may face when looking at full consolidation.
“We are going into this with some keen interest,” Sittig said. “Nobody has looked at it county to county. [...] The last time counties came together, New York City became a city.”
Yates County Administrator Sarah Purdy said the contract itself will be between CGR and Schuyler County. Purdy said Yates County will be adopting a resolution endorsing the selected firm at a meeting Wednesday, May 14. Sittig said the study will begin around this time, giving mid-May as an approximate starting date for the study.