HOPEWELL — When Mary Krause looks at the Ontario County property tax savings plan to be voted on Wednesday, it’s hard not to notice the figure of $4.7 million — the potential savings if a number of shared services projects are completed.
What she prefers to focus on, however, is the work that went into the plan and the people responsible.
“For me, the relationships that came with our [shared services] panel were the most important,” the county administrator said recently. “We had just four months to bring this together and many positive things came out of it.”
Like every county in the state, Ontario was tasked with looking at consolidation and shared services following a mandate by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Panel members are expected to approve the tax savings plan during a special meeting at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the county safety training facility in Hopewell.
The plan, titled a “Continuing Legacy of Shared Services,” started with a municipal summit on April 25 that included representatives from municipalities in the county and school districts. Panel meetings followed on May 10, May 31, June 21 and July 2.
Three public hearings were held July 6 in Canandaigua, Geneva and Victor. If approved by the panel Wednesday, the plan will go to state officials by Sept. 15.
Here are some items that could generate the biggest cost savings:
• Tub grinding — Several municipalities spend significant tax dollars in their highway department budgets on tub grinding, the process of grinding trees and leaf material into a mulch or compost-like consistency.
Krause said the county has a private business, Green Renewable, willing to complete this task in exchange for the ground-up material. The estimated 2018 savings are $109,150.
• EMS equipment storage — The county had planned to build a 3,360-square-foot storage building to house emergency management equipment, at a cost of about $176,000, to relieve congestion at the safety training facility. However, it may instead lease about 1,000 square feet of space in a new highway facility being built in the town of Canandaigua.
The lease cost would be about $2,600 per year.
• County/FLCC public relations support — Krause said the county and Finger Lakes Community College had a productive discussion regarding shared services, and currently share some services. They will pursue a joint public relations contract with the hours divided equally.
Krause said the college has a vacant position it will not fill, while the county will not create a full-time public relations officer position recommended by a consultant. The estimated net savings are $109,303.
• Court facilities — The towns of East and West Bloomfield have agreed to consolidate courtroom space at the start of next year. West Bloomfield had considered renovating or building a new town hall to include new court space, but instead will lease space from East Bloomfield for a savings of $131,000.
A similar situation is possible between the town and city of Canandaigua. Krause said the relocation of the town court operation to the city hall/city court could generate a potential savings of about $1.7 million — the cost of a new building.
Krause said as part of the tax savings plan, an open house of county buildings and departments will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 14. A public presentation of the plan will be held at 11 a.m. that day at the safety training facility.
“Some of these projects will be a challenge. Some need to start by Jan. 1 and wrap up by Dec. 31 to be eligible for a one-time reimbursement from the state,” Krause said. “Because we are a board of supervisors, we have been working together for some time, including the 1959 formation of a county-wide Workers’ Compensation pool. We’ve been doing shared services for a long time, decades in fact, and we used that past experience as a springboard to these recent discussions.”