The Cheektowaga Town Board’s approval the other day of an agreement to share an assessor with the Town of Evans is indicative of what has been taking place across towns and villages over the past several years. We need more of this low-level form of regionalism in municipalities and school districts.
The unanimous decision appoints Jeneen Lomando-McSkimming as assessor for a six-year term running through Sept. 30, 2019. Because she is serving both towns, Cheektowaga’s residency requirement was waived.
McSkimming’s current three-year agreement splitting her time between Cheektowaga and the Town of Boston expires at the end of next month. She will then work part-time for the Town of Evans and Cheektowaga.
It’s a good deal for McSkimming, who will get approximately $50,000 in annual salary from Cheektowaga, with benefits totaling another $20,000. The Town of Evans will pay Cheektowaga $50,520 a year, in quarterly installments. But it’s a great deal for Cheektowaga and Evans.
It merely continues a growing trend in sharing assessors. In Erie County, Dave Marrano is covered by a shared services agreement between the Town and City of Tonawanda. There is also a shared services agreement between Elma and West Seneca and between Clarence and Lancaster.
The shared services agreement between the City and Town of Tonawanda is saving about $40,000 to $50,000 per community. It’s safe to say that the numbers are similar in other communities, according to Marrano, who is the Erie County Assessors’ Association vice president.
In the past, virtually every town and village had its own assessor paid a full salary and benefits. Now in many cases the host community pays the salary and benefits and then bills the other community to cover the assessor’s time there.
The talk years ago about regionalism centered on combining towns and villages, or school districts. That hasn’t happened, but some savings is coming from sharing. In this case, an assessor collects one paycheck, one set of benefits and one pension contribution. Some school districts share school bus transportation managers. But there are other areas where personnel could be shared, whether dog control officers or building inspectors. Local government should always be on the lookout for ways to save money and operate more efficiently.
It works in the private sector, and it can and does work in the public sector.