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December 12, 2008 - 9:50pm

Cuomo proposes plan for elminating some government agencies

posted by Howard B. Owens in consolidation, government, Andrew Cuomo.

The idea of consolidation of local governments is on its face appealing. It holds out the promise of cost savings, if not lower taxes, as well as reduced regulations on businesses.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo thinks there are too many government agencies in New York.

“Simply put, our system of local government is broken. It has been outpaced by globalization, regionalization, and an ever changing marketplace,” he said. “The density of local government in New York is astounding. There are 10,521 overlapping government units, providing duplicative services creating needless, wasteful bureaucracies.”

The questionable assumption in Cuomo's statement is that globalization and regionalization (never heard that word before) is a good thing.

One could make the case that the smaller the government agency, the closer it is to the people it effects, and the more responsive it is to small group or individual needs.

Here are some other assertions worth further examination:

The law is filled with anachronisms. More disturbing is that the law contains provisions that are relics of the past that conjure up images of “poll taxes.” In some cases, an individual may vote to dissolve or consolidate governments, such as special districts, only if they own taxable real property in the area.

Comparing current laws in New York to racist policies of a Jim Crow era is a pretty loaded. What civil rights are being impinged by the current system?

Again, the idea of consolidation has its appeal. With 10K+ government bodies in New York, you can be assured that many are receiving totally inaccurate oversight.

As a young reporter in California, I loved covering special districts because they received such little attention from journalists. That lack of oversight encouraged a devil-may-care attitude among the officials charged with running the districts. Their expense reports were often a playground of excess if not outright maleficence. There's no doubt that there are redundant and uncessary districts in WNY.

However, I would be leery of any consolidation scheme that diminishes a small town's ability to engage in self rule. Residents shouldn't lose the ability to rub elbows with the elected officials who decided how to spend their tax money.

(Link via Buffalo Pundit)

C. M. Barons
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The population of the Village of Bergen and the Town of Bergen combined, total 2000- give-or-take. Recently our mayor and board had to decide what to call the street I live on. It's not a new street. The sign on the corner had indicated "Avenue" for over 60 years. That's the case with north/south roads in the village. After a hearing and deliberation, it was decided that the avenue was actually a street. The former signs have been replaced at taxpayer expense to answer the urgency of the problem. If simply one body governed, would those idle hands have become so desperate to meddle? Or was it the case that some county busybody started the commotion? You never know...
Daniel Jones
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Consolidation is reality though, in many ways local government in New York is operating with an antiquated system, we have to modernize and begin to pool our resources as a region. Genesee County working together has much more to offer than a bunch of towns and a city moving in different directions. I do believe that the people who live in those municipalities should have fair representation but we have to start operating more cohesively.

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