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Shared service panel has state requirement

PENN YAN--The first meeting of the 2017 Yates County Shared Services Panel was held in the village hall Monday, May 8. Robert Lawton, county administrator, convened the meeting and presented an overview of the new state mandate intended to generate property tax savings by facilitating operational collaboration between local governments.
Village and town representatives from Penn Yan, Dundee, Starkey, Jerusalem, Potter, Torrey, and Benton as well as county legislators and representatives from the local schools convened to hear a presentation by Lawton spelling out the purpose, goals, and functioning of the mandate and the new panel.
It includes the requirement of three public hearings and benchmarks for completion of tasks related to the plans. By Aug. 1, the panel must research recommendations from all the representatives of the shared services panel as well as the representatives of each collective bargaining unit of the county, towns and villages and other optional invited panel members. Then they must write, certify and submit the plan to the county legislature.
Before Sept. 15, the county legislature must review the plan, modify it if necessary, hold three public hearings on the plan and vote on it. Any "no" votes must be explained in writing by the panel member.
The plan should include savings that will be new, recurring into future years and result in real and substantial tax savings. Jurisdictions that create actual and demonstrable property tax savings may be eligible for a non-recurring match of the net savings resulting from the new action in the first year.
A number of panel members discussed the fact that shared services has always been a concern and many savings measures are already in place. They expressed frustration that these significant cost savings cannot be used to fulfill the required mandate. Lawton suggested that quantifying and documenting these existent measures may be useful despite the fact they do not meet the requirements of this mandate.
Others voiced their resentments about the plan saying: (1) The governor is trying to eliminate towns and villages and replace them with county government. (2) It is the governor's political move to gain popularity for future political goals. (3) It devalues local government while putting more responsibility on it. (4) The plan is unfair because it fits bigger cities but not rural areas like Yates County.
After about an hour of discussion, the group decided to focus on two possible areas of cost savings: health insurance and the judiciary. Two committees were formed to study these issues and bring recommendations to the next meeting tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, May 30 at a time and place to be determined. This meeting will be a public hearing. For more information or ideas contact Robert Lawton, 315-536-5509 or email

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