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County reps talk about town’s sharing services

JULIE LANE PHOTO
County officials Blake Hyatt (left) and Stephen Randazzo discuss plans for expanded shared services among municipalities with members of the Shelter Island Town Board at Tuesday’s work session.

Representatives of County Executive Steve Bellone’s administration told Town Board members at Tuesday’s work session about initiatives being launched to make governments more efficient and responsive to residents.

Stephen Randazzo and Blake Hyatt carried the message about implementing a 311 non-emergency service line. Another effort is to enhance a program that encourages municipalities to share services to reduce costs to taxpayers.

The 311 line would be available through a smartphone app and online, allowing residents to report non-emergency problems to get more rapid responses.

It might be a pothole that has plagued drivers or a simple request for information, such as the hours a park is open. Many requests could be handled by a team of responders on the phone, or quickly transmitted to those who could respond to a problem.

The system is already operational in New York City, Baltimore and Los Angeles.

“It isn’t something that will be done overnight,” Mr. Randazzo said. But once it’s up and running, it will relieve the number of calls coming into 911, he added.

A second part of the county’s initiative is to link various municipal needs, particularly purchasing and other possible shared services to reduce costs, Mr. Hyatt said.

Shelter Island has already initiated some shared services with neighboring municipalities and it has worked well, Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. said. But because the town is dependent on ferry travel, other shared services have proven not to be viable, he added.

Mr. Hyatt acknowledged not all attempts at shared services work. But he said others can save money and work effectively.

For Shelter Island, Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams wondered if past efforts will be given credit by the state, which has promised rebates to encourage the programs. Mr. Hyatt said he didn’t have answers to the specific requests.

Both men noted there are concentrated attempts to unite municipal officials with one another in meetings — either in person or by phone — to share ideas. The next meeting is expected to take place sometime in May, Mr. Hyatt said, promising that details on its schedule would be forthcoming.

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