Public officials talk consolidation at forum

ONEONTA – More than 100 local public service administrators from around the region attended a conference in Oneonta last week to discuss the possibility for shared services and opportunities that consolidation may bring to the table.

The Greater Oneonta Economic Development Council, in conjunction with Citizens’ Voices, hosted the event at the Foothill’s Performing Arts and Civic Center. The program, sponsored by the Bank of Cooperstown, featured agents of the New York State Department of State, including Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Dede Scozzafava and Land Use Specialist Robert Roeckle.

With increasing incentives offered by the state for local municipalities to explore consolidation, presenters said there’s a growing interest to combine services across the state and that help is available for local officials who hope to pursue consolidation. The Department of State’s Division of Local Government Services discussed ways in which local governments and schools could potentially strengthen regional assets, improve services and save taxpayer money.

Earlier this year, the state introduced yet another incentive for local municipalities to consolidate via a property tax freeze for businesses and homeowners. The tax freeze is subject to two conditions, the first being that the taxing entity adhere to the 2 percent tax cap; and second, that the taxing entity implement a plan for shared services or consolidation with another taxing jurisdiction.

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