Citizens interested in initiating government consolidation now have a new weapon in their arsenal.
In a press conference at Clay Town Hall Thursday July 2, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo introduced reformnygov.com. The new web site explains a law passed by the state legislature that helps elected officials and their constituents take action to reduce unnecessary layers of government. It offers interactive maps showing various levels of government, sample petitions to help citizens initiate consolidation and interactive communication features to connect citizens across the state allowing them to share ideas about reorganizing local government.
“We have more than 10,500 governmental entities in this state, including towns, villages, cities and special districts,” Cuomo said. “That’s why taxes are so high. It can’t be that we need all 10,500 governments.”
Cuomo held the press conference in Clay in recognition of the merger last year of the town’s police department with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department. The move saved taxpayers $1.3 million in the first year alone.
The new law passed by the state legislature streamlines the process of consolidating government, making moves like Clay’s easier to accomplish. The New New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act “streamlines the often Byzantine and cumbersome process of consolidating and dissolving local governmental entities, including the myriad special districts across the state. The new law does not mandate reorganization of local governments; rather, it empowers citizens, local officials, and counties to make these decisions themselves,” according to Cuomo’s website.
Previous laws on government consolidation were inconsistent and confusing, barring citizens and governing bodies from taking action to dissolve layers of government. The new law authorizes both government entities and citizens to initiate consolidation and dissolution processes and offers more comprehensive, easy-to-follow guidelines on how to do so.
“This law is all about empowering taxpayers,” Cuomo said. “After 75 years of studies and failed efforts at reform, communities across the state now have a powerful new tool for cutting government waste and slashing the highest local taxes in the nation. Today, we are instituting real and lasting reform, and ushering in a new era of greater public involvement and more efficient governing across New York state.”
Visit reformnygov.com for more information.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.