Sparse Turnout for County’s First Shared Services Hearing

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The first of three public hearings inviting Westchester residents to share suggestions about what should be included in the county’s shared services plan was held last Thursday evening in Yorktown but just two town supervisors attended.

Over the last few months, County Executive Rob Astorino and department heads have been working together to create a plan to reduce taxes. All counties throughout the state are expected to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Shared Services Initiative that was implemented earlier this year.

The initiative forces each county to submit a plan to the state by Sept. 15.

Following the submission of the draft shared services plan to the Board of Legislators on Aug. 1, the first of three hearings was held at Yorktown Town Hall, where only Somers Supervisor Rick Morrissey and Pound Ridge Supervisor Richard Lyman showed up.

Representative from Westchester’s cities, towns and villages were encouraged to attend the forum but it was not mandatory, according to Robert Altery, Astorino’s deputy chief of staff.

“This is a process we’re going through at the direction of the governor of New York and his premise was that at the local level we need to work better at sharing services to keep property taxes low, and my critique of that action was basically that he’s missing the fact that the lion’s share of property taxes paid by our residents is school taxes and that where are the schools in the process?” Morrissey said. “I think municipalities that aren’t working with school districts should be and we’re looking into that as well.”

He said he looks forward to reading the final document that pulls together all the suggestions.

The Board of Legislators is expected to approve a final plan by the deadline. The county will then submit the plan to the state Division of Budget and present it to the public by Oct. 15. If the state rejects the county’s plan, Westchester officials would have to repeat the process next year.

Following Monday’s second hearing at Eastchester Town Hall on Monday, the final forum is scheduled for next Tuesday, Sept. 5 at the County Center at 7 p.m.

For more information or to view the draft shared services plan, visit https://goo.gl/yjDjPE.

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