CNY Central's Jim Kenyon has been looking into consolidation efforts in Onondaga County. The effort that created the most controversy three years ago involved doing away with the Clay Police Department and consolidating with the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department.
The latest figures from the Town of Clay show taxpayers saved $2,786,796 as a result of the merger over the past three years. The town projects a ten year savings of about $10 million.
Town of Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra says his town was able to share its assessor with the Town of Cicero but was unable to share a comptroller with the Town of Geddes. Nicotra says, "If we were to start all over with a clean slate we would not set up the governments like we do today...it may take decades to get to where it needs to be."
Tuesday afternoon, Marist College and the Dyson Foundation poll announced the results of their poll. They say that:
- 54% of those outside of New York City think there are too many local governments.
- 68% of New Yorkers have a positive impression of the term "shared services." 60% have a similar reaction to "government consolidation," and 58% say the same about "merged services." 52% of New Yorkers have a positive impression of "regionalism." However, "dissolving local government" is perceived positively by 31%.
- 54% of New Yorkers outside of New York City, which is mostly consolidated, favor local government consolidation for their local government.
- Outside of New York City, New Yorkers were asked about the consolidation of specific services. The services New Yorkers favor for consolidation are public transportation (73%), road and highway maintenance (68%), parks and recreation (66%), prisons (57%), and public libraries (56%). They are on the fence about the consolidation of police (51%) and fire and rescue services (48%).
- Only 45% of New Yorkers support the consolidation of school districts.
- While notable proportions of New Yorkers rely on private services to carry out these functions, New Yorkers view the consolidation of recycling services (69%), garbage removal (56%), sewage services (55%), and drinking water (53%) positively.
These are difficult economic times. If consolidation reduces cost, improves government efficiency, and supports economic growth without sacrificing local identity, then, New Yorkers want consolidation considered, says Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. If not, it TMs back to the drawing board for restructuring local government.
A first-of-its-kind poll finds most New Yorkers want to consolidate at least some local government services, but don't want their hometown or school district dissolved in the process.
The Marist College poll survey of New Yorkers finds 68 percent want local services shared by governments. But just 31 percent want to see local villages and towns dissolved.
The survey shows supporters of reducing local government costs will have to clearly prove the action will save taxpayers money and not result in a loss of a voice in local government.
The poll shows New Yorkers have far more confidence in their local government and most consider local government a good value.
The greatest support for consolidation is in western New York. The least support is on Long Island.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for New Yorkers to consider consolidation of some services including police, fire and sewers as well as elimination of some unnecessary small governments. In Central New York, recent governmental consolidation includes the merger of the Clay Police Department with the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office , and the dissolution of the Village of Seneca Falls into the Town of Seneca Falls.
This is our "Facebook Story of the Day." CNY Central reporter Jim Kenyon is following this story from a local angle and will have more information later in the day.