N.Y. comptroller urges local governments to share services

According to a report from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the state could save $765 million through shared services between counties, cities, school districts, fire districts and other forms of local government. Comptroller DiNapoli said that consolidation of back-office functions through information technology holds the most promise.

Joined by State Assemblywoman Sandra Galef and Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, DiNapoli said many local governments were already looking at pooling their resources and elimination duplication, but there was room to realize more efficiencies.

“Tax dollars are tight and families are struggling,” DiNapoli said at a press conference in Westchester County. “[T]here are 3,175 local governments in New York State. All of these counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts and fire districts should use this report as a roadmap to save tax dollars without hurting the quality of services they deliver.”

Counties, cities, towns and villages spent nearly $4.3 billion on general government administrative office services in 2008, the report says. DiNapoli believes that up to $580 million could be saved by sharing central office functions alone. An expected savings of two to five percent could be realized in local government administrative costs, totaling $85 to $215 million. But savings for school districts could be much larger.

ny shared servicesTotal dollar savings of between $230 and $580 million may be possible if school districts consolidated some of their central office functions. Schools outside the New York City area spent over $7 billion on these types of administrative activities last year, the report found.

The shared services model has been tried successfully in some parts of the state, Assemblywoman Galef said. “I formed the Shared Services Task Force of the 90th Assembly District to look deeply at some of the local issues involved so that taxpayers could understand the process for making changes. The success stories highlighted in the report will help inspire local taxpayers and act as a hands-on guide for local officials so they can continue to work on streamlining government operations.”

“Under Governor Paterson’s leadership, through the Department of State’s Local Government Efficiency (LGE) grant program, local governments have projected a savings of $350 million dollars from a $40 million state investment in over 240 shared service projects,” Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez added.

In 2008, 181 joint activities were reported around the state. Projects included youth programs, water and sewer, refuse and garbage, planning and zoning, library, and transportation.

To read the full text of the report, click here (.pdf).