County shared services program gets legislative go-ahead

County shared services program gets legislative go-ahead
The Village of New Hyde Park's public works garage is seen on Stewart Avenue. New Hyde Park and four other villages have proposed sharing a single public works facility. (Photo from Google Maps)

The Nassau County Legislature voted Monday to continue developing a countywide plan to save taxpayer money by consolidating municipal services.

The plan, developed by the county, its three towns, two cities and 64 villages over the past three months, includes 35 proposals that would save at least $130 million once implemented.

The plan is still in draft form and the full amount of potential savings has not been determined, Deputy County Executive Ed Ward said. Officials must submit a final plan to the state’s Department of State by Sept. 15.

“Right now it’s a guesstimate,” Ward told the Legislature on Monday. “What we have to do as a county, with those municipalities who want to participate with the county, is flesh out the savings.”

Legislation approved in April as part of this year’s state budget requires all counties outside New York City to create consolidation or services-sharing plans to create recurring savings for taxpayers.

The law, pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, requires the county Legislature to review the plan before it goes to the voters on the Nov. 7 election ballot. The state will match any proven recurring savings, Ward said.

The plan includes 13 projects on the North Shore involving 17 local municipalities. In seven of them, the Town of North Hempstead would share basin cleaning, storm cleaning, fuel, tree maintenance and other services with individual villages.

The town has not yet determined how much money each would save, according to the plan.

The villages of Great Neck Plaza, Russell Gardens and Kensington have proposed a collective bidding process for garbage collection services that could save Great Neck Plaza $20,000 a year. Russell Gardens and Kensington would each see a 5 percent cost cut, the plan says.

Great Neck Plaza and Great Neck Estates also want to build a shared salt shed that would save the former village $3,000 and the latter up to $10,000.

The villages of New Hyde Park, Floral Park, South Floral Park, Stewart Manor and Bellerose plan to use a single facility to house their public works equipment and combine bidding and contracts for road repair, tree removal and grant writing. The effort would cut each village’s costs by about 2 percent, the plan says.

The villages of Plandome Heights, Baxter Estates, Flower Hill, Plandome Manor and Plandome want to share several services, such as street-sweeping, code enforcement and an arborist consultant, the plan says.

Plandome Heights would also consider sharing its Village Hall with Plandome Manor officials, according to the plan.

Many of the proposed projects would require agreements between the affected municipalities, which would require approval by their governing bodies.

The biggest proposal would convert the City of Long Beach’s aging wastewater treatment plant into a pump station that would send the city’s sewage into Nassau County’s Bay Park treatment plant.

Converting the plant will cost about $50 million rather than the $178 million required to renovate it, creating a total savings of $128 million, the plan says.

In the proposals they submitted to the county, some village and town officials were skeptical of the state’s mandate, saying they already work to share services.

North Hills Mayor Marvin Natiss said his village already keeps its budget tight and property taxes low because it has has no public roads and does not need staff to maintain them.

“The Village will continue to seek to cooperate with other nearby municipalities, such as the Town of North Hempstead, in purchasing services or supplies, or conducting public work projects,” Natiss wrote in his memo to the county.

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