Consolidating municipal services

Consolidating municipal services

Local officials have faced growing fixed costs and limited budget options for years, but 2017 will necessitate even tougher financial choices.” In response, a growing number of localities are voting to override the tax cap, with 26 percent opting out in 2016.Cuomo’s new contest, which targets the state’s 13 largest municipalities outside of New York City -- only cities, towns and villages with populations of at least 50,000 (according to 2010 U. Census data) may apply as the lead applicant -- may help mitigate that trend for the coming year.In theory, streamlining government to ease taxpayers’ burden is a good idea, but it is essential to identify not just any municipal consolidation, but the types most likely to produce taxpayer savings.There is also some debate as to whether, and to what extent, municipal consolidation addresses the underlying causes of the New York’s property tax problem.The program piggybacks on a series of tax caps and rebate programs Cuomo, a second-term Democrat, has initiated since taking office.

In 2010, when Cuomo was running for governor, property taxes were rising at an unsustainable average rate of 5.7 percent per year, with homeowners in 33 of New York’s 62 counties facing a property tax burden surpassing the national median.

Mc Mahon points a finger instead at state-mandated Medicaid, pension, and education costs.

“Municipal consolidation is not a panacea and it’s kind of a dodge,” Mc Mahon said.

Functional consolidation, in which similar municipal agencies both remain in existence, but cooperate on whether to perform the same or distinct functions for a larger geographic area, has been shown to save money and improve quality of life.

Either one government entity pays the other for services or one agency performs a specific function and the other agency takes on a different function in exchange.

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One such municipality is the City of New Rochelle, which will be forced to break through the tax cap next year to invest in the city’s infrastructure, according City Manager Charles "Chuck" Strome III.

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