The move toward a north county water district received a boost with the announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that $4 million in grant funding will be available statewide for consolidation and reorganization projects.
Cuomo announced that 68 local governments throughout the state will share in the funding to study and implement initiatives to streamline government operations and ultimately save taxpayer money. The Local Government Efficiency grants, administered by the New York Department of State, will be distributed across 18 projects through which local governments are collaborating to achieve operating efficiencies and savings goals.
"These grants play a central role in our efforts to empower municipalities to increase efficiency and reduce costs for taxpayers," Cuomo said. "With our support, local governments across the state are pursuing innovative approaches to their core operations. This ultimately enables local officials to more effectively control costs and reduce taxes levied on home and business owners in their communities."
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said the city's share, $360,000, will be for further study and engineering for the formation of the proposed north county district that could include up to nine municipalities.
"We were the lead agency on that one," he explained of the grant application.
Katherine Tampio is the executive director of the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation, the agency heading the water district project. She explained the city was the lead applicant because it had to be a municipality and not a corporation such as CBRDC.
"The city must administer the grant with my assistance on behalf of all the municipalities involved to finish the implementation plan for the regional water system," she explained.
The governor has supported "bottom-up" opportunities for local government reorganization and consolidation, such as the LGE grants, in order to stimulate a cultural shift in accountability to the taxpayers. This commitment is supported by a trio of competitive incentives that include the LGE grants, the Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program, and the Citizen Reorganization and Empowerment Grants.
New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales said, "Whether by helping local governments more efficiently provide potable water, or by funding the consolidation of emergency services, these Local Government Efficiency initiatives advance Governor Cuomo's vision of making government work for taxpayers. The Department of State remains committed to providing guidance and assistance to help local governments make the most of these grants."
This round of grants will fund seven water projects, including the transfer of management services to county systems in Erie, Orange and Columbia counties, as well as the development of the CBRDC system. In addition, four schools will be assessing reorganization, including the Elmira Heights and Horseheads School Districts and the Seneca Falls and Waterloo Central School Districts.
Further, the city of Peekskill, along with the cities of New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Beacon, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, White Plains, and Yonkers and the village of Port Chester will receive funding for the Shared Redevelopment Services Program of the Mayors Redevelopment Roundtable, a partnership of nine cities in the Lower Hudson Valley region of New York State working together on strategies for revitalization and sustainable growth.
In addition to the grant the city received on behalf of CBRDC, there were two other recipients in western New York. The Town of West Seneca Water District Consolidation & Transfer to Erie County Water Authority received $400,000 while the Village of Hamburg and Erie County Water Authority Water System Consolidation Study received $49,500.
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