Erie County officials unveil plan to save taxpayers $4.5 million

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB)- Erie County has a new plan to save taxpayers millions of dollars next year by sharing services with local governments. The final version was unveiled at ECC North Campus Monday night.

Governor Cuomo challenged county executives statewide this spring to reduce property taxes, including in the budget a requirement for local officials to come up with a plan to share services.

“I believe there is always more efficiency you can find,” said Gov. Cuomo. “Not everyone has to do everything.”

Since April, 45 Erie County officials have been meeting to develop a plan. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz leads the panel of city, town and village leaders.

In September the panel voted to approve the plan.

It saves taxpayers about $4.5 million in 2018. Each individual average taxpayer will save about $13.

“We were sort of encouraged to think big, think out of the box and think of very practical ways that could save any amount of money,” said Bill Krebs, the Village of Springville mayor.

The plan calls for Springville to take over Mill St. storm sewer maintenance from Erie County, saving the county hundreds of dollars.

“It’s a very small plan,” admitted Mayor Krebs. “Sharing services in the surrounding towns, like the one we live in, the Town of Concord, I think there’s much more we can do there.”

There are 21 other initiatives in the plan, each affecting different municipalities.

The top cost saving measure calls for improving the efficiency of the household hazardous waste collection program, which would save $2 million.

Moving some tax collecting services to county offices will save more than $945,000. Sharing highway equipment between the Town of Lancaster and Villages of Depew and Lancaster will save about $313,000.

For a full list of the initiatives, click here.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz told News 4, these savings only account for a small portion of the total property taxes levied. In 2017, the total taxes levied by the county, cities, towns, villages, school districts and special improvements districts totaled $1.7 billion.

The state excluded school districts and special districts from the shared services requirement. For this plan, the county only looked at cities, towns and villages. Those local municipalities account for about $822 million of the taxes levied in 2017. The $4.5 million in savings was calculated from that lesser amount.

If the county can prove its plan worked to save taxpayers money, the state says the county will then be eligible to receive state money matching the amount saved.

County Executive Poloncarz said, in the plan, that the county already had a dozen shared services in place before this plan was created.

The new initiatives will build on those. The process also brought all stakeholders together for an important conversation.

“As a result we know there’s additional initiatives out there that could be implemented if we put in more time and effort, and I see that happening,” said Poloncarz.

The county already has 10 other ideas for additional ways to save money.

This plan goes into effect next year.

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