Municipal leaders meet with goal to reduce taxes

County Executive Mark Polancarz address area municipal leaders Wednesday evening at the County's first shared services meeting. (Submitted)
County Executive Mark Polancarz address area municipal leaders Wednesday evening at the County's first shared services meeting. (Submitted)

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – Leaders from across Erie County met Wednesday evening to begin exploring shared services opportunities between the county and municipalities.

The state requires the creation of this shared services panel at the local level as part of the 2017-18 budget.  The panel is tasked with the goal of reducing total local property taxes by identifying collaborative opportunities for shared services between as many local governments as possible.

The panel is chaired by County Executive Mark Polancarz and is comprised of the chief executive officers from each city, town and village in the county.

“By working together in a spirit of openness and service to our constituents we can produce a plan that doesn’t just shift costs but instead is beneficial to our entire community,” said Polancarz.

Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski represents Cheektowaga on the panel.

“I was pleased to join County Executive Mark Poloncarz and other municipal leaders from across the county yesterday for this very important first step in lowering property taxes.  Cheektowaga has had shared service agreements in the past and we’re open to exploring new options and ideas for the future.  We owe it to all our residents to explore every avenue and do all that we can to find savings and reduce the burden on our taxpayers.  I am very hopeful that the Erie County Shared Services Panel will be able to find credible solutions resulting in real savings for taxpayers.” said Benczkowski.

Polancarz’s office says that potential cost-saving ideas and plans must be submitted by the panel to the county by June 16th and the group’s second meeting will be held that week to review all submissions.  Three public hearings will be held over the summer to allow for public input. The proposed plans will then be voted on by the panel in September.

If a plan is approved, its tax savings must be certified to the NYS Budget Office by mid-September and the plan would then be publicly presented in October. If no plan is approved, each voting member must provide NYS with a written reasoning for their vote and the process would be repeated in 2018.