Counties prepare for shared services study
WATKINS GLEN—Representatives for Yates and Schuyler Counties met to begin planning how to conduct a shared services study between the two counties. The group met Wednesday, March 19 at the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) offices in Watkins Glen as members of the Ad Hoc Steering Committee for Exploration and Oversight of Collaboration Opportunities. This comes after the two counties were awarded a $50,000 grant to conduct a study of how they can share and consolidate services, while also not ruling out the potential for a county merger.
“The purpose is to seek whatever efficiencies are achievable and mutually beneficial in both counties and maintain quality,” Yates County Administrator Sarah Purdy said.
The committee’s first meeting was used to establish how they plan to go about selecting a consultant to conduct the shared services study between the two counties. Purdy said the committee also needed to discuss their role, the role of the consultant, the timeframe for selecting a consultant and how to go about handling copies of proposals. Purdy said thus far, some 15 firms have responded to the request for proposals (RFP), including firms from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Massachusetts.
The committee agreed upon a set of standards used to rank each proposal, which they will use when they begin the ranking process at their April 2 meeting. The ranking sheet prioritizes experience in completing similar types of projects as the top priority for selecting a candidate. Other factors include the firm’s understanding of the work to be done, the quality of their proposed staff for the project, familiarity with county government rules and regulations, the capacity to perform based on the firm’s resources and current workload, and the consideration of cost factors.
Schuyler Legislator James Howell said the committee needs to find out who will be interviewing the candidates, to which Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said they may be able to use a subcommittee to screen the proposals. The board agreed they should work to narrow the field of candidates down to a smaller number before progressing to the next step.
“I can see when we get to the point of needing to subdivide or assume distinct roles as committee members there will be some things that fall naturally,” Purdy said.
The committee’s work Wednesday was the beginning of a three phase plan to be conducted during the next year. Phase one is the “exploration” phase which includes the overseeing of selecting a consultant to evaluate the opportunities for each county. Phase two is the “planning and due diligence” phase that will oversee the development of a plan to provide sufficient information as to whether or not to proceed with the implementation of a chosen partnership model. Phase three is the “readiness and implementation” phase that will oversee the development of a plan to meet the established targets set by the committee.
“There are a lot of reasons why we are the one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive states in the country,” Yates Legislator Mark Morris said. “It is because we haven’t done things like this.”
After the committee discussed how they were going to properly rank each firm’s proposal, they decided to set their next meeting for April 2 in Yates County to begin going through and beginning the ranking process.
“Keep an open mind,” Schuyler County Chairman Dennis Fagan said. “We have a lot of opportunities and hopefully we will be able to look at them.”