Consolidation of services across municipal lines is an old, recurring and often divisive topic in Larchmont and Mamaroneck. Suddenly, however, elected officials from all three local municipalities are in agreement on consolidation – it should definitely be studied.
The problem: as of yet, there is no consensus on how to go about the study.
Mamaroneck Town Superivor Valerie O’Keeffe and her board have suggested forming a study committee comprised of one elected official not running for office in the current cycle and one citizen from each municipality. The chair would be “an experienced person” selected by her board.
In an April 23 letter to the mayors of Larchmont and Mamaroneck, Ms. O’Keeffe outlined the proposal and said, “I hope this meets with your approval so we can form the committee to study shared services as soon as possible.”
Approval was not forthcoming.
The two mayors and Mamaroneck Village Trustee Tom Murphy, who is making consolidation the centerpiece of his run for Town supervisor, support applying for a grant to fund a consultant to lead the study.
Mayor Feld said, “There is a role for a local group, but it would be very unfortunate if the issues got lost in the heat of the [November] elections.”
She suggested requesting funds through the New York State Local Efficiency program to “hire an independent, non-political consultant who would bring a fresh perspective.”
”Sure,” said Mayor Kathy Savolt, summarizing her response to the supervisor. “But let’s do it right. I can say from experience that these types of analyses are not easy. ”
She also wanted to apply for a grant to hire someone “who’s done this before and can help us crunch the numbers – efficiently and quickly.”
Ms. Savolt also brought up the existential question for Mamaroneck Village: 40% of the village is outside the Town of Mamaroneck. The Rye Neck area is in the Town of Rye. Children attend the Rye Neck School district, rather than the Mamaroneck one.
“So it doesn’t always make sense for us to do something that the Town of Mamaroneck and Village of Larchmont might do,” she said.
Mr. Murphy issued a press release that recommended, among other things, making preparations to “submit a grant application as soon as the funding cycle begins.”
Town Board: Studying Options
On Thursday, May 7, Ms. O’Keeffe said she and her board were “researching our options on what kinds of grants are available.”
A general efficiency planning grant would provide $27,000 for a tri-municipal effort. However, “it is problematic that any consultant could complete a tri-municipal study for that amount,” said Ms. O’Keeffe. The board is looking into larger grants – some as large as a million dollars.
Meanwhile, said Ms. O’Keeffe, “There is no reason for us to wait on a grant or a consultant to get started.” She said the Village of Larchmont and Town of Mamaroneck had been informally discussing and studying consolidation for over 18 months.
A committee of citizens working with staff could get started “right this minute,” she said.