Gov. David Paterson announced today that he has signed legislation that would make it easier for citizens and local officials to consolidate or dissolve local governments. Residents and local governing bodies could petition for abolishing or combining special taxing districts, towns, villages or other government entities.
New York has more than 10,500 taxing districts statewide, 6,900 of which are town special districts for water, fire and other services.
“Our system of local government is outdated and overly complicated, and today we are making it easier to consolidate or dissolve local government entities,” Paterson said in a statement. “The legislation represents real reform and will result in bottom-line savings for taxpayers.”
The legislation does not mandate that consolidation take place. Under a government-initiated process, consolidation or dissolution of local government entities other than towns or villages could take effect without approval from voters. A majority of voters would need to approve consolidation of towns and villages.
Supporters of the bill said it will improve government efficiency and save money, which will help communities keep property taxes down. It was proposed by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
“With this new law, taxpayers are now empowered to cut the nation’s highest local tax burden by reining in the bloated and antiquated system that has left the state with layer upon layer of government entities,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The governor said more changes are needed, such as capping state-government spending and local property taxes, reforming the pension system and providing other mandate relief.