Local governments should consider sharing services to help reduce costs and maintain services to residents, suggests a new report from the Empire Center for Public Policy. “Municipal Cooperation: Sharing Services in NY,” explores the different ways localities in New York can and do share services to save money.
A provision in the 2014-15 New York State budget will provide a property tax rebate to homeowners in localities that develop plans to save money through various avenues, including shared services.
The report finds that half of all local governments already share public transit and highway and road maintenance to save money, but very few share services among administrative and support services, which produce savings 70 percent of the time .
“There’s little question that local governments are struggling under budgets laden with contractually guaranteed labor costs and always-rising pension and other benefit costs,” said Tim Hoefer, the Empire Center’s executive director. “Sharing services is one of the tools in a local government’s tool box for reducing costs and continuing to provide the services taxpayers have come to expect.”
The report is the fifth in the Center’s Empire Ideas series which consists of research papers and public forums designed to promote ways elected officials, community groups and concerned taxpayers can improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of local government and school districts.
Previous reports have provided local leaders with blueprints for adopting multi-year financial plans, reforms of retiree health insurance programs and improved financial transparency. The most recent Empire Ideas report, issued in February, focused on the savings potential from mergers, consolidations and dissolutions of local governments.