Do Fewer Layers of Government Mean Fewer Taxes in New York?

As the fiscal crisis for government deepens, local leaders are increasingly pressed to re-tool. For years, consolidation of governmental services has been a complex labyrinth of regulation understood by few. New York State Attorney General, Andrew M. Cuomo believes that one way to improve the services and reduce the tax burden, is to remove and consolidate various layers of government– to reduce the tax bills for everyday tax payers who often pay county and town taxes, village taxes, school taxes and taxes for special districts, including water, sewer, and utilities.

Given the current fiscal crisis New York State faces, with declining revenue (taxes) and increasing needs (costs of services), how is the local municipality going to effectively provide the services without increasing taxes or reorganizing governmental entities to efficiently provide the same services.

Just as private businesses re-organize in this global economy, the municipal market place might need re-structuring if we are to retain our middle class, our businesses, and our home rule. Think of the duplicity (redundancy and otherwise) in services provided by an estimated 10,521 overlapping governmental units, sub-divisions, etc. Would private industry permit the same wasteful bureaucracies that exist in local communities.

Under the current law, the consolidation and re-organization solution that can be executed by private industry is hampered by inconsistent, often nonsensical legal barriers, and complexities that make operational reform virtually impossible.

The New York State Attorney General proposed legislation that streamlines existing processes, eliminates inane inconsistencies, and strikes from the law offensive anachronisms such as requiring property ownership in order to vote in a special town election on a proposition to consolidate water districts.

The antiquated system (understood by almost no one) permits New York State real property owners the “privilege” of the highest local tax burden in the country, dwarfing other states, and far exceeding the national average. The theory, eliminate governments by consolidating services, saving millions of dollars.

The newly proposed legislation empowers governments across New York State to study, and then streamline, the complex rules and regulations surrounding the reorganization process.

The impact could be significant, but will local governments and their tax payers have the stamina to address the problem? Read more here.