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Genesee County leader says shared-services plan ensures tax rebates for residents

BATAVIA – Genesee County leaders say they are going the extra mile to ensure that as many of its residents as possible receive tax rebate checks in the fall of 2016 as part of the state’s mandated government efficiency plan.

“We felt we had enough savings on our own to qualify for the rebate, but we wanted to reach out to other municipalities that may not have had any new shared-services initiatives in recent years,” Assistant County Manager L. Matthew Landers, who coordinated the joint effort, said Tuesday.

He said the county’s plan includes the city of Batavia, the towns of Alexander, Byron, Bethany, Darien, Le Roy, Pavilion and Pembroke, and the villages of Corfu, Le Roy and Oakfield. It was submitted to the state’s Budget Division on Friday, beating the June 1 deadline.

Landers said it demonstrates projected local savings of about $14.3 million for 2017 through 2019.

“All we are required to do is to show a savings of $370,000 per year – lowering the tax levy by 1 percent each year,” Landers said. “We’re well above that.”

Landers pointed to the county’s commitment to streamlining programs and sharing services that have resulted in significant savings in the areas of dispatch, snow removal contracts, highway equipment projects, wastewater facilities between the city and town of Batavia, privatization of ambulance services and city/county youth services administration.

“A prime example is the city of Batavia privatizing its trash collection, which lowered its tax rate, and the pending sale of the (Genesee County) nursing home,” he added.

The first rebate in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s three-year program was a school tax rebate last fall. The second phase takes place this fall, with checks going out to towns, counties, cities, villages and school districts, while the third and final phase for municipalities only is scheduled for the fall of 2016.

The Governor’s Office projects that the program will provide $1.5 billion in tax rebates to homeowners.

“We’ve already been approved for this fall’s checks because we stayed under the state tax cap,” Landers said.