Head of town su­per­vi­sors’ group jeers Cuomo’s shared-ser­vices pro­posal; Hein says it has merit

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

Two town su­per­vi­sors in Ul­ster County, one of whom leads a coun­ty­wide group of mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers, are push­ing back against a rec­om­men­da­tion by Gov. An­drew Cuomo re­gard­ing coun­ties shar­ing ser­vices with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Cuomo, in one of his six “State of the State” speeches this week, en­dorsed a plan that would re­quire county lead­ers to meet with lo­cal gov­ern­ments to iden­tify ways to cut costs and con­sol­i­date ser­vices. Any rec­om­men­da­tion then would have to be put to a public vote.

Town of Rochester Su­per­vi­sor Carl Chip­man op­poses the plan.

“I think the governor should learn a lit­tle bit more about what hap­pens at the mu­nic­i­pal level [and] what kind of ser­vices that we ac­tu­ally pro­vide and how we pro­vide them, and then maybe they (Cuomo and his aides) would find out that we’re the most ef­fi­cient way of pro­vid­ing ser­vices,” Chip­man said Thurs­day. “They don’t have a clue what goes on at this level. That’s the prob­lem.”

Chip­man, a Repub­li­can who also serves as pres­i­dent of the Ul­ster County Su­per­vi­sors and May­ors As­so­ci­a­tion, said Cuomo’s pro­posal ap­pears to be an ef­fort to deny the res­i­dents of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties a say over how lo­cal money is spent.

“My gut feel­ing is that he is try­ing to get rid of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties,” Chip­man said of Demo­crat Cuomo. “‘Shared ser­vices’

is a code word for ‘let’s get rid of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and home rule.’”

Town of Ul­ster Su­per­vi­sor James Quigley, a Repub­li­can, said Cuomo’s pro­posal is noth­ing new.

“He’s been push­ing for con­sol­i­da­tion and shared ser­vices for four years now, and they’ve yet to come up with any­thing that works,” Quigley said.

Chip­man said dis­cus­sions

about shared ser­vices can­not be dom­i­nated by the county.

“I’m will­ing to share ser­vices on nu­mer­ous items, but it’s got to be as equal part­ners with the county,” he said.

In Ul­ster County, some town su­per­vi­sors have taken is­sue with crit­i­cism from the County Ex­ec­u­tive’s Of­fice about mu­nic­i­pal bud­gets get­ting larger de­spite the county tak­ing over $20 mil­lion worth of wel­fare and elec­tion costs.

“We have other ex­penses that have gone up ... [more] than the costs that were

saved through the ef­fi­cien­cies gen­er­ated by the county takeover” of wel­fare and elec­tion ex­penses, Quigley said.

Chip­man said it was “ridicu­lous” for county of­fi­cials to ex­pect town bud­gets to be re­duced pro­por­tion­ately to the cost sav­ings.

“Has any­body ever spo­ken about cap­i­tal projects and how we have in­fra­struc­ture that des­per­ately needs to be main­tained and re­placed and we’re not get­ting any help for that and it’s not ex­empt un­der the [state] tax cap at all?” Chip­man said.

County Ex­ec­u­tive Michael Hein on Thurs­day stood by his past con­tentions that town bud­gets have grown too much since the county took over the wel­fare and elec­tion costs.

“With the $20 mil­lion worth of re­lief we pro­vided to the towns and the city of Kingston, do you think any prop­erty taxes have gone down?” Hein said.

Hein, a Demo­crat, said Cuomo’s pro­posal re­gard­ing shared ser­vices can­not be ad­e­quately dis­cussed un­til the specifics are made public. Still, he said, ef­forts

by Ul­ster County to de­velop shared-ser­vices plans should be used a tem­plate for the rest of the state.

“We have rethought how county govern­ment ser­vices are de­liv­ered and rein­vented ev­ery step of the way,” he said. “That process has re­sulted in some shared ser­vices and a great deal of re­struc­tur­ing within county govern­ment. The bot­tom line is the tax levy, the amount that we ac­tu­ally col­lect from the peo­ple of Ul­ster County, is less to­day than it was in 2010, in the first bud­get that I wrote as county ex­ec­u­tive.”

Hein said Cuomo’s pro­posal would give res­i­dents con­trol over shared-ser­vices plans.

“He would like to see towns and coun­ties ... work closely to­gether to iden­tify pack­ages to bring to the vot­ers so that the peo­ple can ac­tu­ally make the de­ci­sion,” the ex­ec­u­tive said. “So it isn’t a mat­ter of hav­ing a stronger or weaker seat at the ta­ble. It’s a mat­ter of be­ing able to bring a real pack­age of change that low­ers prop­erty taxes across the board.”


New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo speaks Wed­nes­day at SUNY Al­bany, de­liv­er­ing one of his six ‘State of the State’ mes­sages.

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