Assemblywoman Galef, NY Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez and Senator Stewart-Cousins Announce Local Government Efficiency and Environmental Protection Grants for Westchester County

Department of State releases annual Local Government Efficiency Report, highlighting millions of dollars in cost savings from shared services and consolidation
February 2, 2010
Sleepy Hollow – Assemblywoman Sandy Galef joined New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, NY Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and other state and local lawmakers and community leaders in Sleepy Hollow yesterday to announce the multiple Local Government Efficiency (LGE) and Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grants that the Department of State recently awarded to municipalities across Westchester County.

Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez also released the 2008-2009 Annual Report for the Department of State’s Local Government Efficiency Program, highlighting ways in which the State has provided financial and technical assistance to local governments to reduce taxpayer costs through consolidation of services and improved fiscal efficiency.

As part of the Department of State’s LGE Program, Briarcliff Manor, Sleepy Hollow, and Tarrytown were awarded a grant to assess the benefits of consolidating their water departments, and the Putnam and Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) received funding to study the benefits of consolidating school bus services among its 18 component school districts for the disabled and out-of-district bused students. From EPF, Dobbs Ferry received two awards – to mitigate erosion and study how better to access its Hudson River waterfront – and Tarrytown received four – focusing on improved access to the Hudson and new scenic hiking trails.

“As a strong advocate for sharing services, I am pleased that two of the grants announced today will have a very positive impact on communities in my district. The studies funded to look at sharing water services and sharing out of district bus transportation have the potential to both lower costs and streamline services in and around the 90th Assembly District and can be used as examples throughout the state,” Assemblywoman Galef said at the press conference. “I applaud the efforts of Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez and her Department for the work they are doing in this area. The Annual Report the department released today which shows anticipated savings of over $400 million dollars across New York from a $45 million investment, is evidence that our state dollars are hard at work to fix the problems of our oversized government.”

“I am pleased to join with my partners in state and local government today, as we show our dedication to improving the quality of life in communities across this great county,” Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez said. “Thanks to these awards, Westchester residents will have greater access to scenic views of the Hudson and additional trails for hiking and biking along the water – not to mention the potential for taxpayer savings, as local governments look to share water and school bus services.”

Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Chair of the Senate Local Governments Committee, said, “The success of the Department of State's LGE Program has demonstrated how much can be achieved when every level of government works together to create taxpayer savings. Additionally, today's awards will provide enhanced access for all of our residents and visitors to one of our State's most important natural treasures, the Hudson River waterfront, enhancing economic development for the entire region. I commend Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez for her leadership on the important issues of government efficiency, reducing the burdens on taxpayers and protecting our environment.”

Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, Chair of the Assembly Local Governments Committee, said, “The Local Government Efficiency and Environmental Protection grants provide communities with valuable resources to save money and to save our environment. I will continue to support the use of these grants that assist both the municipality and the local taxpayer in real cost savings and shared services for individual projects throughout the state.”

Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez yesterday also released the Department of State’s Local Government Efficiency Program Annual Report, highlighting ways in which the Department has provided financial and technical assistance to local governments to reduce taxpayer costs through consolidation of services and improved fiscal efficiency.

The Department of State has been administering New York’s Local Government Efficiency Program since 2005, and each year the Department produces a report outlining identifying new strategies to strengthen the LGE Program in response to the changing needs of local governments.

“This report tells us that local governments are effectively leveraging this incentive to complete projects that provide real taxpayer savings,” Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez said. “The Department of State remains committed to building upon our long tradition as a partner with local government, and I am proud of our accomplishments and the work of New York’s local government leaders. We will continue to assist municipalities to explore options that produce cost saving and efficiencies, with the ultimate goal of reducing local property taxes while maintaining and improving services.”

Since the inception of the LGE program, DOS has received 1,014 applications, requesting more than $183 million. There have been 270 awards made to local governments totaling some $45 million – for an estimated savings of $418 million to taxpayers.

The report includes a summary of all LGE grant applications and awards, an assessment of project implementation and an estimate of overall financial savings achieved by municipalities participating in the Department of State’s shared services initiatives.

To download a copy of the report, please visit:
http://www.dos.state.ny.us/lgss/sharedservices/index.html.

The following statements were given in support of the LGE and EPF grant awards:

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said: “These awards are well deserved and stand as a model for municipalities across New York State. Local governments can look to these grants as examples of effective and beneficial means of addressing the difficult economic climate. I commend those responsible for crafting these proposals and look forward to the positive impact they will have on the lives of the people of Westchester County.”

Briarcliff Manor Mayor Bill Vescio said: “Briarcliff Manor is currently involved with three other consolidation studies for police, DPW and local Courts. Briarcliff Manor will continue to be a leader in its effort to reduce the cost of government to its taxpayers, especially during these difficult economic times. This grant will continue that effort with Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow as we all seek additional cost effective means to provide quality water delivery for our residents through shared water services and or consolidation.”

Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES Superintendent James T. Langlois said: “This grant supports BOCES in doing what it does best – working with school districts to save taxpayers money by finding new and innovative ways to share services. The grant will help us identify bus routes from different districts that can be combined, and any time routes can be combined there are significant savings. Fewer buses can provide the same amount of transportation. Because of the many different school start times, different destinations, and different types of students, the analysis is complex. Without the grant, it’s unlikely the school districts could have afforded to do the study. I’m confident that, because of the support provided by the grant, our districts will be able to provide for the transportation needs of our students and a lower cost to our taxpayers.”

Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell said: “These two programs represent state and local government at its best – not only are New York state and local governments working cooperatively to find less costly and more efficient ways of providing vital services, but also we are working together to fund critically important projects that will improve the environment and quality of life for all of our residents.”

Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray said: “I want to thank the State for giving us the opportunity to identify specific ways that we can both work together and work more efficiently.”

Steve Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Scenic Hudson, said: “State and local government in partnership can accomplish great outcomes with impressive efficiency. With Hudson River projects, the state’s investment is typically leveraged with the participation of nonprofits. Scenic Hudson is working with Tarrytown on a transformative waterfront access project as part of our longstanding commitment to connect people to the Hudson. Today's announcements underscore the importance of state funding of the Environmental Protection Fund – because new riverfront attractions create jobs and make our region an ever-greater place to live and do business.”

Bernard Molloy, Waterfront Director, Historic Hudson River Towns, said,“ The Local Government Efficiency and EPF grant programs are vital tools for our municipalities, never more so than during this challenging economy. These programs demonstrate what can be accomplished when all levels of government work together cooperatively. Indeed, I’d like to see these programs, the opportunities and most importantly the savings they generate expanded. Local leaders and taxpayers deserve nothing less.”