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County Executive Robert P. Astorino kicked off the "United We Save" Shared Municipal Services Expo '13 at the County Center Thursday by introducing a five-minute video featuring local officials who tell real stories about how their communities have saved money, thanks to the county's shared services.
"The county has many shared services success stories. We've learned that the answer isn't doing more with less. It's doing more with what we have at our disposal. By collaborating and sharing, we have saved taxpayer dollars and increased efficiency," said Astorino.
Representatives from most county departments and offices had booths that filled the main floor of the County Center's arena. The expo was an opportunity for local governments, schools and other districts to talk directly to these representatives and discuss the needs of their government or district.
The video highlights some of the services that were on display.
- Under Astorino's Safer Communities Initiative, the traditional definition of Mutual Aid has been expanded. In the case of Mount Vernon, county police officers partnered with local police to patrol neighborhoods and reduce violence and crime. More than 200 arrests were made, 2 illegal handguns were recovered and 34 pounds of marijuana was seized.
"The police officers have taken guns off the streets, narcotics off the street, and more importantly than the numbers, is the fact that Mount Vernon residents can feel safer, because we have a county police officer and a Mount Vernon police officer working together," said Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Terrance Raynor.
- For the Town of Bedford, the county's Taxi and Limousine Commission performs background checks and licensing duties that were previously done by local police officers. The agreement has enabled more police officers to be on the street instead of in the back office.
"The county is able to provide enhanced services that the local municipality may not have the wherewithal to provide such as drug testing and in-depth background checks on these drivers. We have a high degree of confidence that the people who are driving these cabs are safe and properly licensed and equipped to drive our citizens around and we think that's a good thing for our community," said Town of Bedford Supervisor Lee Roberts.
- When the Village of Rye Brook's plans to begin their comprehensive study stalled, the county's Planning Department stepped in to provide base mapping services, so the village could better understand their regional conditions.
"Working with the county saved us about $60,000. Now that the county has helped us complete our base study, we can focus on what's really important and that's the future of the Village of Rye Brook," said Village of Rye Brook Mayor Paul S. Rosenberg
- One day a week, the county operates a satellite office of the Human Rights Commission out of Yonkers City Hall to address discrimination issues and promote equality and justice, saving the city $150,000 annually.
"The shared services agreement between the county and the City of Yonkers for the Human Rights Commission has been a tremendous success and I think it's a model for other municipalities in the future," Human Rights Commission Executive Director Mark C. Fang, Esq.
- The Town of Yorktown saves its residents money by utilizing the county's contract sharing service through the Bureau of Purchase and Supplies.
"We buy all our food for the senior center through the county bidding process and as a result it saves us money and it saves the taxpayers money," said Town of Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace.
The 2013 Shared Municipal Services Resource Guide, a comprehensive description of services available in the areas of public safety, planning, purchasing, information technology and many more, was distributed at the expo and is available online.
Photo: County Executive Robert P. Astorino (center) kicks off the "United We Save" Shared Municipal Services Expo '13 and is joined by (left to right) Human Rights Commission Executive Director Mark C. Fang, Esq., Commissioner of Finance Ann Marie Berg, Town of Bedford Police Chief William Hayes, Town of Bedford Supervisor Lee Roberts, Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Barbara Z. Monohan, Department of Public Safety Inspector Thomas A. Gleason, Department of Planning Associate Planner Bill Brady.