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Onondaga County releases first draft of shared services plan

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo

The first draft of Onondaga County’s shared services plan calls for creation of a BOCES-like entity intended to help local governments efforts to become more efficient.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says it was learning the way BOCES facilitates sharing services among local school districts that inspired the proposed Greater Syracuse Shared Services Consortium.

"It would be a nine-person board, that could do things like creating a purchasing consortium, and could buy things for all of us together. And it wouldn’t be anything that would threaten the identity of a village or town, but give them the ability to piggyback on some of the larger municipalities to drive costs down,” the county executive said.

Mahoney says the beauty of it all is that there is already an apparently little-known law on the state books from the 1960s, which allows for creation of an intergovernmental consortium like this.

Mahoney says she’s gotten nothing but positive feedback from local government leaders about this idea so far. The county is required by the state to come up with a shared services agreement by mid-September, and this is the first draft of that plan. Mahoney says it also includes other suggestions from local governments about things like sharing of IT services and Medicare payments. Schools also are proposing a transportation hub to more efficiently move students who need to be bussed to parochial schools or special programs. Mahoney says this local board would tie it all together.

"The sky's the limit for what kinds of things we want to do all together with that can be done through this board, rather than separate votes of the county legislature,” Mahoney said. "We’re just talking about a mechanism for those of us who exist to come together, create bylaws, and maybe templates for agreements, so that every time a town wants to share with a town or a village wants to share with a town or the county, we don’t have to have lawyers writing up separate agreements for the decisions we make.”

The first public hearing on the draft plan is next Thursday at 6 p.m. at East Syracuse Minoa High School.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.