Attorney General Cuomo Brings His Government Consolidation And Reorganization Proposal To Buffalo

BUFFALO, NY (February 19, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo was in Buffalo today to outline his legal proposal that gives communities across the state the power to reform local governments. Cuomo was joined by state and local leaders at the University at Buffalo.

Cuomo has been traveling throughout the state since last year to discuss his plan with local leaders, academics, and government reform groups. As the current fiscal climate continues to financially squeeze communities and residents across the state, Cuomo’s proposal is designed to cut government waste and reduce taxes. Currently, the state is home to over 10,500 governments that saddle residents with the nation’s highest taxes and leave the state with layers of antiquated government entities and special districts. Cuomo’s comprehensive legislative plan will streamline the often Byzantine and cumbersome process of consolidating local governmental entities, including the myriad special districts across the state. The proposal will not mandate consolidation; rather, it restructures the law to empower citizens and local governments to make the decisions themselves.

“New York State, like the rest of our country, is facing a fiscal crisis. We are at a point where we cannot afford to ignore calls for government reform,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “I have been traveling the state since last year to outline a plan that will streamline our government and reduce the tremendous tax burden placed on New Yorkers. I am pleased to be here with Buffalo’s leaders to discuss how to make our state government more efficient and lower the cost of living throughout New York.”

In all, there are more than 10,500 governmental entities imposing taxes and fees across New York State. This includes towns, villages, districts, and special districts such as water, sewer, and lighting districts.

As the state’s chief legal officer, Attorney General Cuomo is often tasked with advising local governments on the laws regulating them. It is clear that current laws are filled with inconsistencies and complexities making meaningful reform unattainable.

Given the current fiscal crisis New York is facing, the option to reorganize governmental entities allows communities the ability to provide vital services in a more efficient manner. In some cases, consolidation or dissolution may be necessary to reform government to meet the unique needs of each community. Current law, however, is unable to solve the problem because it is inconsistent, poses legal barriers, and includes anachronisms that make operational reform virtually impossible.

Attorney General Cuomo’s proposal has already received support from leaders statewide.

New York State Senator William Stachowski said, “I commend Attorney General Cuomo’s initiative to help empower the citizens of New York by making the consolidation process more uniform and simplified. Efficient government, at all levels, is beneficial to every New Yorker.”

New York State Senator Dale Volker said, “I’ve spent my career fighting for ways to save taxpayer dollars. We all realize that we are in the midst of a great economic crisis and now is not the time to sugarcoat the challenges that we face. Rather, we have the opportunity to structurally change the way New York State operates and create real savings for the taxpayers of our state. I have in the past worked with Attorney General Cuomo on several crime fighting initiatives, including legislation that protects our children from sexual predators. Today’s announcement to empower citizens in organizing their local government will go a long way in saving tax dollars, and I look forward to working with him on this issue to achieve real results for our taxpayers.”

New York State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer said, “I very strongly support the initiative and referendum process which would give citizens the right to place important issues on the ballot and allow the voters an opportunity to vote yes or no on the ballot proposition.”

New York State Assemblymember Sam Hoyt, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Local Government, said, “Government consolidation and regionalism are concepts that have ignited the imagination of New Yorkers looking to bring their local governments into the 21st Century. For too long the legal obstacles to translating these ideas into reality have stood in the way. Attorney General Cuomo’s proposal for empowering local communities will eliminate those barriers. I look forward to shepherding this out of the Assembly Local Government Committee, which I chair, and ultimately passing it into law.”

New York State Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte said, “New York’s archaic rules and regulations regarding local government and school district structures do more to inhibit change than encourage it. I encourage shared services among local governments, and believe simplifying Western New York’s governmental system will save working families money.”

New York State Assemblyman Mark Schroeder said, “In order to stay competitive in a global environment and offer governmental services efficiently and effectively, New York State needs to rethink the way its local governments operate. We need a local government system that faces the challenges and realities of the 21st Century. I applaud Attorney General Cuomo and his comprehensive plan to allow the citizens of New York State to restructure their local governments by breaking down the barriers that stand between our current system and real reform.”

New York State Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, “During these days of fiscal austerity I strongly encourage all municipalities at every level of government to become actively involved in this process, with the end result of the citizens right to choose at the polls.”

Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz said, “I am honored to once again join Attorney General Cuomo in this reform initiative that can potentially save taxpayers tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars annually through the reduction of redundant taxing districts. Last year my office’s study of local assessment in Erie County found local governments and the County could save several million dollars annually, as well as eliminate needless duplication of services, by potentially moving to a countywide model of assessment. Elected leaders must look for ways to re-engineer and streamline government to make it more efficient and responsive to the taxpayers’ needs. I was pleased to join the Attorney General in Albany in December 2008 when he announced this proposal and I fully support his efforts.”

Erie County Legislator Tim Kennedy said, “Time and time again, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has demonstrated his ability to achieve proven results when he takes on an issue. I look forward to working side by side with him to reform a system that has become somewhat stagnant and inefficient. I applaud him in his efforts to reform government and give the voice of government back to the people where it rightfully belongs.”

For more information about Attorney General Cuomo’s proposal and to view an interactive map detailing special districts in New York State by county, visit www.ag.ny.gov

 

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