“We’re 300 yards apart and we do a lot of the same things, and provide a lot of the same services,” Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli said.
According to the state, teams of two or more local governments will submit plans demonstrating how government consolidations and innovative restructuring initiatives will yield reductions in property taxes. The winner would receive up to $20 million.
It’s all in an effort to try and lower property taxes, while lowering the amount of government.
“Like it or not, we have too much government, there are just too many layers of government,” Santulli said. “This is an opportunity to get some real money to bring us together.”
But this time, the combining of the services would start at the top.
“What we want to do is talk again about a full merger of administrations; that our administrations would come together and be one operation in one building,” Santulli said.
Santulli also expressed the possibility of combining law enforcement as well, but added that’d be several years away from happening.
As of now, the city is willing to continue discussing with the county the possibility of moving forward. But city officials stress they need to know more before agreeing to anything.
“We can’t turn away from $20 million, certainly that would be nice for the city and the county and this area, but we want to make sure we have all the facts prior to us agreeing to that,” Elmira City Manager Michael Collins said.
If both the city and county vote to move ahead, they’ll have to express interest to the state by the end of the month. If the state approves, they’ll receive $50,000 to form an official proposal, which would have to be submitted by the end of June.
For more on the competition, click here.