Southampton Town officials are searching for ways to share the costs of some basic services with other municipalities, both to cut their own expenses and to tap into tax credit incentives offered by the state that encourage such efficiency.
Combining fuel depots, partnering on technology packages and even sharing in trouble-shooting assistance could save the town hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and bring more in tax savings, according to officials.
“The town spends $300,000 to $400,000 a year in contractual costs for IT [Information Technology] work alone,” Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone said. “If we could save 15 or 20 percent, that’s a substantive savings. Piece that together with a few things together and you get to half-a-million or three-quarters-of-a-million in savings, not all at once, but eventually.”
Mr. Zappone pointed to the fueling stations that the town vehicles utilize as another way for the town to save as much as $100,000 annually. The town, incorporated villages and even local school districts operate their own fueling stations for their respective vehicles. Reducing the number of stations could cut maintenance and operation costs to the tune of between $25,000 and $100,000 per year, he estimated. Commensurate savings would presumably be realized by the other municipalities and districts, too.
In recent years, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office has spurred state programs intended to push public agencies, school districts in particular, to share more services and trim tax burdens on residents. Credits on taxes are graded both on the total amount of savings a district realizes and on the number of municipalities that partner together in those services.
Representatives of each of Suffolk County’s 10 townships have begun drawing up service sharing plans with their neighbors to trim costs and taxes.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about for quite a few years now because, here in Southampton anyway, our treasury management has been very aggressive,” Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. “But after a while you exhaust your sources for new savings if you don’t start thinking outside the box.
“We’ve done personnel and internal reorganization, but the one missing link has been shared services and there are a lot of avenues for us all to look at there that could mean substantial savings for everyone,” she continued.