Attorney General Cuomo Unveils Landmark Government Consolidation Legislation

 

MELVILLE, NY (May 21, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo was in Melville today to unveil landmark legislation, entitled the “New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act,” which will give communities across the state the power to reform local governments. Cuomo has been traveling throughout the state since last year to discuss his plan with the public, local leaders, and government reform groups, and to build bipartisan support for his legislation. The Attorney General was joined by state and local leaders at the headquarters of the Long Island Association.

As the current fiscal climate continues to financially squeeze communities and residents across the state, Cuomo’s proposal is designed to cut government waste, reduce taxes, and provide vital services in a more efficient manner. Currently, the state’s overlapping governments saddle residents with the nation’s highest local taxes.

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 allow citizens, local officials, and counties to make the decisions themselves.

“We have the historic opportunity to pass legislation that will empower citizens, streamline New York’s antiquated local government system, and reduce the tremendous tax burden that New Yorkers deal with every day,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Over the last several months I have been traveling the state to build public support and to reach out to local leaders regarding this government consolidation proposal. Today’s show of bipartisan support for the plan is further testament to the fact that in these tough economic times we need to implement reform and save taxpayer dollars. I look forward to continuing to work with both sides of the aisle to usher this bill into law.”

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 virtually unattainable. Attorney General Cuomo’s bill repeals and amends these outdated laws to allow for meaningful reform of local governments throughout the state.

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

Senator John J. Flanagan said, “I’ve long fought to reduce the ever-growing burdens on taxpayers. That’s why I’m happy to work with the Attorney General to make sure that we empower citizens and local governments to fundamentally reorganize and reduce duplicative layers of government so that taxpayers can get some relief.”

Assemblymember Bob Sweeney said, “Attorney General Cuomo’s bill is just what New Yorkers need right now to make government more efficient and to cut unnecessary taxes. I support this bill and look forward to working with the Attorney General to ensure its swift passage.”

Assemblymember Fred Thiele said, “New York State is facing the greatest financial challenge of our generation. Now is the time for bold and progressive innovations that will make our government work better and cost less. Attorney General Cuomo’s bill provides exactly the direction we need to achieve a stronger, streamlined government in New York.”

Assemblymember Patricia Eddington said, “Thoughtful and sensible plans like Attorney General Cuomo’s proposed legislation to empower citizens to reorganize their layers of local governments in order to find efficiencies and taxpayer savings, while still providing them with the services they need, will go a long way to help New Yorkers through this economic crisis and beyond.”

Assemblymember Michael Fitzpatrick said, “Consolidating antiquated and inefficient layers of government will benefit all New Yorkers. I applaud Attorney General Cuomo for developing this proposal and bringing this bill and will fight vigorously to make sure it gets enacted into law.”

Assemblymember Phil Ramos said, “I applaud the Attorney General’s bill that empowers citizens and government to modernize local municipalities in order to save taxpayer dollars. I look forward to working with Attorney General Cuomo to make sure the bill becomes law. Taxpayers deserve no less.”

Assemblymember Phil Boyle said, “New Yorkers deserve a government that responds to their calls for reform. Attorney General Cuomo’s bill empowers citizens of New York to bring about the change they need in their government. Working together in a bipartisan fashion, we can help save taxpayer dollars.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said, “I am happy to work with Attorney General Cuomo towards consolidating special districts. In a similar vein, over the last few years in Suffolk, I have worked with municipalities and school districts towards consolidating functions and sharing common services to also save taxpayer dollars.”

Senator Brian X. Foley said, “Working families on Long Island and throughout the state are doing more with less. It’s time government does its part by recognizing the need to reduce costs and save taxpayer dollars. I commend Attorney General Cuomo for bringing this important issue to the forefront and look forward to considering all possible avenues to cut waste and put money back in taxpayers’ pockets.”

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said, “Long Island homeowners are struggling to pay their property taxes and are looking for tax savings that make sense. Attorney General Cuomo’s proposal would provide consolidation options that some communities may be interested in considering to bring about significant relief.”

Long Island Association President Matthew T. Crosson said, “Long Island has over 900 taxing jurisdictions, more than 700 of them special districts. Their cost adds to the Island’s property tax burden, which is among the highest in the nation. The LIA agrees with Attorney General Cuomo that the voters should be empowered to decide whether to keep special districts as they currently exist or consolidate them to reduce taxes. We look forward to continuing to work with the Attorney General to make this important reform in the region’s and the state’s governmental structure.”

Association for a Better Long Island Executive Director Desmond Ryan said, “With over 10,000 layers of government in New York State, the tax burden that rests on New Yorkers can stifle growth and limit business development. By streamlining government, we can help citizens and the businesses in Long Island and throughout the state. The Association for a Better Long Island supports Attorney General Cuomo’s legislation and urges its passage.”

Long Island Progressive Coalition Director Lisa Tyson said, “The passage of this bill would bring long-needed aid to Nassau County’s hard-working taxpayers. For too long, Special Taxing Districts have been allowed to exist as unregulated independent taxing fiefdoms that have cheated citizens due to their unfair, opaque and corrupt practices. We applaud the Attorney General for championing legislation that will allow for the consolidation, streamlining, or reform of Special Taxing Districts.”

Residents for Efficient Special Districts Executive Director Laura Mallay said, “Consolidating special districts will improve the way government functions in New York State. Taxpayers are currently subjected to an array of overlapping specials districts that cause expense and confusion. Attorney General Cuomo’s bill will encourage vital reforms that give citizens the power to cut the excess bureaucracies and lower their tax burden. This is important legislation, especially in these times, and I fully support it.”

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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