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Considering Shared Government Services in New York State: A Guide for Citizens and Public Officials

Kristi Andersen, Shana Kushner Gadarian, Joseph V. Julian, Minchin G. Lewis, Grant Reeher, Danielle Thomsen, Michael Wasylenko, Colleen Dougherty, Zach Huitink, Eric van der Vort, Sunju Raybeck

May 2017

New Yorkers in all 57 counties outside of the City of New York have a new resource to help them develop and evaluate locally-designed plans for county-wide shared services. Developed by scholars at the Campbell Public Affairs Institute of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, the downloadable guide “ Considering Shared Government Services in New York State: A Guide for Citizens and Public Officials” provides context, case studies, and a user-friendly FAQ of central issues and questions regarding shared services. The guide also provides best practices and step-by-step instructions for establishing panels and facilitating public forums, which are mandated in the New York State budget law.

The FY 2018 New York State Executive Budget established the County-wide Shared Services Property Tax Plan (Part BBB of Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2017), requiring local governments to consider ways of sharing services in order to save taxpayer money, and to improve the delivery of those services. The law calls for a series of meetings and hearings, starting with a panel of public officials from the local governments within a given county, and then among those public officials and citizens, before a plan is developed by the county executive and then put to a panel vote.  Real property tax savings realized by participating governments are eligible for one-time, dollar-for-dollar matching funds from the State.

To support the implementation of this new law, the New York State Department of State contracted with the Campbell Institute to develop a non-partisan guide to help public officials and citizens more usefully consider the possibility of sharing services within their counties. In particular, the guide aims to help those officials and citizens who are participating in the meetings and hearings to better identify and frame the issues and questions that are most important in considering different possibilities for shared services.

Grantmakers across the public, private, and non-profit sectors often look to the Maxwell School to provide independent, interdisciplinary research and scholarship on a variety of public policy issues.  The authors note that the guide does not take a stand on shared services. “Whether shared services will help local governments and benefit taxpayers is up to local public officials and citizens to decide,” says Campbell Institute Director Grant Reeher, the Guide’s principal investigator. “In creating this guide, we aimed to provide local officials and citizens with the background and a roadmap for public conversations about improving current service delivery, in a way that is tailored to their needs, and a framework for evaluating those plans.” 

About the Guide, and the Campbell Institute

“Considering Shared Government Services in New York State: A Guide for Citizens and Public Officials” was created by the Campbell Public Affairs Institute of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, through a contract with the New York State Department of State. Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute, was the principal investigator for the project. Contributing authors from the Maxwell School include:

Kristi Andersen, Chapple Family Professor of Citizenship and Democracy Emeritus, emeritus professor of political science 
Shana Kushner Gadarian, associate professor of political science
Joseph V. Julian, senior research associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute
Minchin G. Lewis, adjunct professor of public administration and international affairs
Grant Reeher, director, Campbell Public Affairs Institute, professor of political science
Danielle Thomsen, assistant professor of political science
Michael Wasylenko, professor of economics
Colleen Dougherty, Burton, PhD candidate, political science
Zach Huitink, PhD candidate, public administration and international affairs
Eric van der Vort, PhD candidate, political science
Sunju Raybeck, administrative and outreach assistant, Campbell Public Affairs Institute

Founded in 1996, the Campbell Institute’s mission is centered on citizenship, public leadership, and governance. The Institute explores the relationships among leaders, citizens, private organizations, and governments in an effort to understand the development and implementation of effective management and policy. The Institute’s projects and initiatives have included the Pew-funded Government Performance Project, dedicated to finding practical solutions to the problems of government; CNYSpeaks, an effort to broaden and deepen public deliberation and community participation in local affairs; published monographs on federalism, information sharing and homeland security, and government transparency; the Campbell Conversations, an award-winning weekly regional public affairs radio program; a public Oxford-style debate series on issues related to public policy issues in New York State and the local community (including a debate on establishing a metropolitan form of government for Onondaga County); and numerous lecture series of interest to the regional community.

Campbell Public Affairs Institute
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