Author Topic: The NY Government Reorganization & Citizen Empowerment Act to the Rescue  (Read 106 times)

Doug K

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The answer to Mr. Caswell's concern is simple...and already been addressed here in New York State. It's called the NY Government Reorganization & Citizen Empowerment Act (NYGRACE) a new law to help residents out when excessive government is making it too costly for NY Residents.

The Caswell home lies in Town of Perinton, AND the Village of Fairport, which earns him, like most Erie Canal Village residents, a "double" tax payment. One to the Village and the other to the Town/County. And of course there is the School tax as well.

And Mike Caswell is not alone... just about every resident in Pittsford & Perinton is paying way above the average for Town Municipal services compared to similar townships along the Erie Canal.

The problem is that canal Village Municipalities will ALWAYS be disadvantaged in serving the public efficiently, compared to the Townships those villages are part of. This is especially true for Villages along the Erie Canal, some of the oldest in New York State. It's a result of "redundant" government & overhead needed to manage an area of land.

The graph below shows there are two Towns who need to explain why their costs are so much higher than the others with similar demographics.  Village Officials should take notice that this type of information will not sit well with the small groups of residents they serve. Can anyone working in Leadership of a Village explain the benefits of staying incorporated as a Village given how lopsided this data looks for them?


Towns & Villages are compared by Annual Budgets. Physical size of the Towns & Villages and the number of residents that live in these areas are listed by name, with area highlighted in red and associated populations as a separate graph bar.



As the graph shows there are areas of concern comparing Town to Town data. Seems  a few towns are not running very effectively in how the residents are served, and what value residents are receiving for Tax Dollars they spend.

Also what is shown is how disproportional the Villages Annual Operating Cost are in comparison to the Towns they are located within. Combined Village budgets exceed those of the towns even though those Villages have far less area to manage, about 5%, and only a third of the total population that Towns have to care for.

Here's a cost breakdown PER RESIDENT for Towns & Villages between Buffalo & Syracuse



Because of situations JUST LIKE THIS,  New York State passed a law in 2010 (NYGRACE) to empower citizens to start their own efforts to reduce government layers and reorganize local municipalities to gain efficiency and lower overall taxes paid. Because of the obvious fact that some Village Officials may be reluctant to "dissolve themselves" away, NY State enabled Village RESIDENTS to ask for a Vote of Dissolution that could force the Village to consider the proposal. It's meant to help eliminate the burden of small VILLAGE government on NY Citizens by giving the power back to them to push for Reorganization or Dissolution of unnecessary layers of bureaucracy.

This website explains the purpose and idea behind this consolidation.

https://www.dos.ny.gov/lg/publications/ConsolidationDissolutionLaw.pdf

There have been studies on the NY Govt. Consolidation process and several Villages have voluntarily dissolved to save their residents undue hardship, They have consolidate services, and now have their Townships take the lead role in managing municipal services for the residents living in those villages. Some villages have put the Village Dissolution question up for a vote, as directed by the NYGRACE Act. Some village votes have resulted in Villages dissolving, and others have not, when voting was in favor of keeping villages in place.

How could anyone could ignore the obvious fact that Villages Leaders are overcharging their residents compared to what the Townships have already demonstrated is possible? Is it good business for those Villages to turn a blind eye to this fact? Is it in the best interest of the residents those Village Leaders serve to ignore the fact they have perhaps become more burden than benefit?

If given a choice, most Village Officials will be unwilling to put themselves out of a job and dissolve their villages voluntarily. That is covered in a nice study on this topic, by the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

https://rockinst.org/issue-area/dissolving-village-government-in-new-york-state/



Here is a website devoted to explaining the various branches of NYS Government and the role of County, City, Town & Village,

https://www.dos.ny.gov/lg//handbook/html/village_government.html 

Finally, there is a NYGRACE Handbook Guide that is available to help facilitate the dissolution & consolidation of a Village. What is interesting to note is the section on Taxes.

https://www.brockportny.org/files/NYCOM_document_on_dissolution.pdf 





Here's a nice website as well... it outlines the importance of preparing a proper petition for a public vote and why. 

http://labergegroup.com/2017/02/08/village-dissolution/ 




MOVING FORWARD WITH VILLAGE DISSOLUTION:

Sadly, the issue of poorly run, inefficient, village governments is once again just going to divide neighbors, put villagers at odds with each other and maybe pit Town vs Town or Town vs Village. Many opposing canal change will make their own 'facts' up, deny the issue with Village Operation cost, and try to play on the sympathy of Canal Life being "lost". That was the case with the recent work being done by the Canal Corporation on it's Erie Canal Earthen Embankment Integrity Program work, some will fight just "because".

Many Canal Villagers will fight change tooth & nail, not because they think it's best to keep an expensive Village in place. They will resist this change, like most, because they are scared of the "unknown".

What would life be like without the Canal Village they have had all these years...? I know the answer to that one...

Life without Brockport, without Fairport & Pittsford, life with any NY village DISSOLVED will be far less expensive for the residents & taxpayers unfortunate enough to have homes within the limits of an Incorporated Erie Canal Village

« Last Edit: March 05, 2020, 05:44:07 am by Michael Caswell »

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Tayllor M

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Do you think the 45000+ Perinton residents will be happy to accept any tax increase so that 2000+ Fairport residents can get a tax decrease?   Seems kind of selfish to me.

Doug K

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That is a GREAT question... thanks. But I have one question in return.

Being Selfish?  On "who's" part?

Is it the Villager, who's been picking up the tab for 1-2 square miles of Town Land since he bought his home? The fact that just about everyone in the Town uses the village at some point should matter here. These folks are only asking for fairness but perhaps some may say they are being selfish.

Or are you referring to the Town's People, who might selfishly vote against this change, thinking that this inequality should continue? Why wouldn't it be fair to eliminate redundant efforts in government, what possible reason could be given? Would anyone pay twice a Wegman's for food... once at the checkout and another time leaving the building?  Why do Villagers have to pay two different governments in the same Township? This issue, like most things, all depends on which side you are viewing the problem from... and of course how much it's costing you for that view.

Just to be clear...here are the numbers for Towns and Villages centered around Rochester



In the end it's really up to the VILLAGE if they want to dissolve... the Town will not be included in any vote for a Village to dissolve, brought forward by Village residents.




But the case of other NYS Govt Reorganization methods a Town-Village CONSOLIDATION is another matter, and one that should be the method used IF all parties can agree on that course to take. This would fold essential parts of the Village into the town, and also prompt a full Town/Village vote. And I suppose some in the Town could say it's unfair or selfish but in the end what's fair for all in the Town will prevail.

Remember of course that if the Town's People want to lead a campaign to try and stop the Consolidation effort, the Village residents can simply band together and FORCE the hand of the Town by simply dissolving the Village using the Guidelines in the Govt Reorganization Act and voting themselves out of existence.

That would most likely be the most disruptive to all parties but could be how it's done... if people start changing the subject from what is FAIR to discussions about being selfish or whatever other reason people want to make up to justify this money being needlessly spent to keep an "extra" layer of management, sorry, Government running in an already overtaxed State.

What Should be Done...

Each affected Town should offer to work on their Village Consolidation or Dissolution voluntarily. After all, in many cases it has been the VILLAGE NAME that most people associate with a given Township. Villages have become the focal point for much local Town activity and usually have a collection of historical buildings, parks, and other Town amenities. Towns people should be reluctant to "throw the baby out with the bath water" and lose those parts of it's identity forever linked with the Village name, instead working on a fair solution for all in that town.

Incorporated Villages in NY State ARE redundant layer of government in NY State, there is NO doubt. But what is being "dissolved"is the COST of the village, not the name, and certainly not the community spirit. The village name can still be used by the Town to promote itself, along with it's Canal Heritage. It just won't have an associated village costs a currently only small group of taxpayers subsidize. The entire TOWN should share the burden of these small spaces within their Towns...  Or at least that what the State of New York Lawmakers Said when they passed this Law

And those who volunteer their time and energy in the Village won't disappear either, they will more than likely seek to take active roles in Town Government and support Town initiatives. Town Boards will get a breath of new life, Town Volunteers that are over-burdened now will have people they can look to for ideas and help.

Why is it that everyone seems to jump immediately to what is presumed to be "lost" with something like Village Consolidation or Dissolution and not understand that there are most likely many more things gained for everyone's benefit.

The path towards Positive Change should NOT be this difficult folks, maybe stop looking at the glass "half-empty"?

« Last Edit: February 26, 2020, 06:05:56 pm by Doug K »