"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have"
Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 28, 2008

State Looking To Finance Efficiency

The 2008-09 New York State budget includes funding to study and implement changes in how local tax jurisdictions operate. The programs formerly known as Shared Municipal Service Incentive has been rebranded as Local Government Efficiency.

Along with the rebranding comes expanded entities the state will make eligible for funding including counties, cities, towns, villages, special improvement districts, fire districts, library districts, water authorities, sewer authorities, regional planning and development boards and school districts.

The idea of the program is to encourage and support shared services, cooperation among entities and even mergers and dissolutions.

The program has been successful with some local creativity such as;
  • Wyoming County where the dissolution of the Village of Pike will occur leaving the governing to the Town of Pike. 
  • The school districts of Canajoharie, Mayfield, Piseco, and Wells created a central business office. 
  • A combination of Watkins Glen School District, Town of Dix and the Village of Watkins Glen will receive funding for a shared public works facility with a centralized administration the saving taxpayers $2.1 million dollars projected over a 5 year period. 
Those are just some of the more creative examples from across state with room for a lot more creative thinking. Northern New York could stand to examine some initiatives to reduce the amount of government and administration across the North Country.

The state should make this mandatory with the level state aid used as an incentive to reduce and consolidate government operations, costing local taxpayers less as well requiring less state aid over a 5 year period. The state should reduce aid to local taxing entities if they cannot reduce cost of operations or ways to consolidate, that will find elected officials scurrying about to find efficiencies or taxpayers will elect others who have the ability to think of ways to find cost reductions.

More can be done and and has to be done, if government in this sense was run as a business there would be no choice but to act!

Department of State Letter


Anonymous said...

Consolidation isn't always great, and it isn't always the right thing to do.

When a village dissolves and becomes part of a town, then the residents of that village lose a great deal of their power over how their lives are governed on a practical level, when discussing things like, police services, fire services, garbage services -when addressed by local government- and even their drinking water and their sewage.

Is there an administrative cost to exercise this greater power, sometimes yes, sometimes not so much, but one thing is for certain, it is easier for a resident of a very small village to talk to their mayor than it is for the same person to talk to a board of supervisors for their town. Remember that!

Anonymous said...

A consolidation grant might actually pay for a Town fire dept. (who want a new fire station) to move into a shared facility at the Town barn by adding 3 or 4 more bays as well as paying for some other needed improvements and retrofitting. In order to do that, however, there are some mighty huge obstacles to overcome - the mentality/ego of some elected officials who'd rather have a new, whoop-de-doo Town barn with their name on a plaque and the mentality/ego of some firemen who don't want to share a building with anyone. It's hard to outgrow that way of thinking: We need the newest, and the nicest, and the biggest and the most expensive for ourselves and no one else. Look at our schools. Look at our hospitals. Consolidation? LOL!

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