Cuomo proposes plan for elminating some government agencies
Submitted by Howard Owens on December 12, 2008 - 10:50pm
The idea of consolidation of local governments is on its face appealing. It holds out the promise of cost savings, if not lower taxes, as well as reduced regulations on businesses.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo thinks there are too many government agencies in New York.
“Simply put, our system of local government is broken. It has been outpaced by globalization, regionalization, and an ever changing marketplace,” he said. “The density of local government in New York is astounding. There are 10,521 overlapping government units, providing duplicative services creating needless, wasteful bureaucracies.”
The questionable assumption in Cuomo's statement is that globalization and regionalization (never heard that word before) is a good thing.
One could make the case that the smaller the government agency, the closer it is to the people it effects, and the more responsive it is to small group or individual needs.
Here are some other assertions worth further examination:
The law is filled with anachronisms. More disturbing is that the law contains provisions that are relics of the past that conjure up images of “poll taxes.” In some cases, an individual may vote to dissolve or consolidate governments, such as special districts, only if they own taxable real property in the area.
Comparing current laws in New York to racist policies of a Jim Crow era is a pretty loaded. What civil rights are being impinged by the current system?
Again, the idea of consolidation has its appeal. With 10K+ government bodies in New York, you can be assured that many are receiving totally inaccurate oversight.
As a young reporter in California, I loved covering special districts because they received such little attention from journalists. That lack of oversight encouraged a devil-may-care attitude among the officials charged with running the districts. Their expense reports were often a playground of excess if not outright maleficence. There's no doubt that there are redundant and uncessary districts in WNY.
However, I would be leery of any consolidation scheme that diminishes a small town's ability to engage in self rule. Residents shouldn't lose the ability to rub elbows with the elected officials who decided how to spend their tax money.
(Link via Buffalo Pundit)