ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County officials are exploring ways to consolidate or share county services to reduce property taxes and are turning to the public for input.

Tompkins and counties across New York have been tasked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create shared services plans. The effort is meant to reduce property taxes. A public hearing Wednesday will be the first of three hearings to gather input from the community regarding how Tompkins County can consolidate or share services.

There is no formal plan yet to comment on, so the first public hearing will be a chance for the public to share ideas in general about where the county can cut costs.

The public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Tompkins County Legislature Chambers on the second floor of 121 E. Court St. in Ithaca.

In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Countywide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Plan as part of his 2018 budget that would require local governments to find ways to consolidate and cut costs to lower the burden of property taxes.

Possible actions for counties, Cuomo’s initiative states, include sharing services such as joint purchasing, highway equipment, storage facilities and plowing services. Counties can also establish energy and insurance purchasing cooperatives, reduce back office administrative overhead and eliminate duplicative services.

Any plan Tompkins County creates must be approved by local voters in November. If voters do not approve the plan, counties must re-try the following year.

Related: Tompkins official disagrees with Gov. Cuomo’s call for ‘efficiency plan’

This year’s budget in New York enacted the law, which requires the chief executive officer of all 57 counties outside of New York City to convene a panel of public officials, publicly deliberate, and vote on a shared services plan. In Tompkins County’s case, the chief executive officer is County Administrator Joe Mareane.

Mareane, with input from the Shared Services Panel must develop the plan before Aug. 1, when it will be submitted to Tompkins County Legislature. The panel will vote on the final plan by Sept. 15.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.