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Thread: Rising costs/taxes may claim NYS municipality

  1. #1
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Rising costs/taxes may claim NYS municipality

    http://www.wbng.com/news/local/3205296.html

    Interesting item on a strong proposal to dissolve the Village of Johnson City, NY and have the surrounding Town of Union take over its local government responsibilities.

    This is something that I firmly believe is badly needed in many areas with too many units of local government serving too few people, especially in NYS, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

    Mike

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    I think you're probably right. In NY, it's not only too many units of local government, but also the traditional of home rule, which makes it almost impossible to apply regional approaches to any given problem.

    I once researched the issue of dissolving a municipality in NY. I think that in the last several years, one village government has been formed and one is under consideration... in both cases due to disagreements with town government officials about planning. But the general trend has been to dissolve villages into the surrounding townships.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- Same problem here. Is mass annexation in order?
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
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    http://hafd.org/~jordanb/ Pretentious Weblog.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I think its common in a lot of populated areas where the City reaches the burbs and then goes beyond. I worked for a town very similar. It is now seeing a lot of problems due to increased operating costs. One major problem for these small towns are the cost of uniformed workers. Unions for PD and FD will bankrupt these small towns, they have no shame in draining them dry in my opinion. I really am disgusted by them from what I have seen. This small town actually looked at contracting out all fire services with the major city abutting them for a cost savings, didn't fly though. Now they have a great new PD station that rivals that of towns 3 times its size and has a police force and fire force that is commensurate with towns much larger due to the Unions! Bottom line is the city is 7 sq. miles and does not require such protection and drains the tax base. City hall employees and public works employees are being dropping like flies and Unions are still crying for raises for positions that get 100+ resumes per job. Something is wrong there if you get that many resumes for one job opening. On top of all this it makes planning on a regional level very difficult since every little town has its own agenda.

    Playing devil's advocate though, those wealthy small towns that can afford the costs can get exceptional public services and some local controls to keep their area how they want it. Pros and Cons...

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    New Jersey has an even worse problem with home rule. There are 566 municipalities last I checked. There were 567 but in 1997 Pahaquarry Twp. was disolved into Hardwick Twp. There were only 20 citizens in that town.

    But I digress...

    There are 13 municipalities that are "donut hole" towns here in New Jersey (2 in my County). Small areas usually less than 1 or 2 miles square that are their own entities completely surrounded by another municipality (Metuchen is surrounded by Edison, Jamesberg is surrounded by Monroe, Sussex is surrounded by Vernon I think). With the rising costs of everything it blows my mind to think that these towns can't share services. I know the town I live in has a DPW so large it could service almost the whole corner of the County!!! Why a small town has to have their own police force with 1 or maybe 2 cops on at night gets me. Their own fire department, post office, garbage contract etc etc etc. Not to mention mayor, town council, planning board, clerk, library, and on and on. These services do not come cheaply to a small town. However, in the economy of scale a larger area can more evenly distribute the costs and use the overall resources more efficiently.

    I believe many services should begin to be shared between towns in New Jersey starting with DPW and Police forces. This is the first step to sharing costs and lessening the workforce of each individual municipality. The next step would be much harder to have one town agree to be dissolved into another or two or more towns agree to make a new town. But then what will the old mayor do? What will the planning board chairman do? The preception of them 'loosing' power will surely hurt them and therein lies the logjam to this whole concept. The people in 'power' don't want to give up that 'power' (and I use quotes to show that the power is more of a perception than an acutal power). If small town politicos can get over their fragile egos than consolidation can deffinetly beifit tax payers everywhere.
    @GigCityPlanner

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    I agree with you about the need to share services. I know of one small city that's practically been bankrupted by the cost of running its police department... this is a community of less than 2 square miles. The bordering suburban townships, meanwhile, are doing great because of all the development. They don't have police departments but they have expressed NO interest in contracting with the city to provide services. Actually, the relationship between the city and the towns is just terrible. The city has more water than it needs, yet a neighboring town constructed its own water plant (which it could easily afford) rather than purchase water from the city. Ridiculous.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Mud Princess and Tide I agree with you 110%. Same situation in the town town I was discussing. New waterplant cost the citizens a few million dollars when they could have grabbed it from the on of the cities surrounding them. Anytime some option opens like this they offer them water at a jacked up rate, but what people fail to see is the cost of operations, maintenance of their water lines, and the expense of a new plant. They should pay their fair share. PD and Fire is the best example I think. Does every small town need its own pumper truck, 20 squad cars, its own police chief salary to pay, yada, yada. IMO it makes for an even better excuse to plan regionally, but ofcourse each town is too proud to give up "Their" departments and services. Oh well... I think its just a matter of time for a lot of these towns. It has been slowly happening in midwestern towns where they have been taken over by larger faster growing cities. I think a big part of the problem is the small towns failure to plan and grab land... There is an optimum size for small towns.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920
    http://www.wbng.com/news/local/3205296.html

    Interesting item on a strong proposal to dissolve the Village of Johnson City, NY and have the surrounding Town of Union take over its local government responsibilities.

    This is something that I firmly believe is badly needed in many areas with too many units of local government serving too few people, especially in NYS, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

    Mike
    Large parts of Maine that have handfuls of populations can file and become unincorporated territories - they get a number - it's like an MIT Urban Studies wet dream...

    They are run, as to development, by the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission.

    http://mainegov-images.informe.org/d...&id=441225681f

    It seems to work well but I always feel a sense of sadness when I read in the paper that another Town has filed because they can't afford to provide education or some other service, they lose their name and I would think their identity...

    or maybe I'm just being a weird planner-romantic

    I also am one of the few people that think home rule works fine - but that's my closet libertarian philosophy again...

  9. #9
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide
    ...Why a small town has to have their own police force with 1 or maybe 2 cops on at night gets me. Their own fire department, post office, garbage contract etc etc etc. Not to mention mayor, town council, planning board, clerk, library, and on and on. These services do not come cheaply to a small town. However, in the economy of scale a larger area can more evenly distribute the costs and use the overall resources more efficiently...
    This isn't how NYS works. In fact, as I was reading the article, I was wondering how dissolving the Village would make much of a difference in costs. One specific Village in my County is one square mile. It has a Post Office, a mayor, and a clerk, but the Planning Boards are volunteer, as is the Fire Department, and no Police Force or library. I beleive the Village Office is publicly open 8 hours a week or so, and as for a garbage contract, I don't think they have one, but ... doesn't everyone have to pay for garbage pick-up anyway??
    Quote Originally posted by Vlaude
    ...Same situation in the town town I was discussing. New waterplant cost the citizens a few million dollars when they could have grabbed it from the on of the cities surrounding them. ....
    And this Specific Village is in negotiations right now to hook onto the City Next Doors water system!

    While I agree that being a home rule state has distinct disadvantages, I'm not sure that cost is really a big one (unless we're talking about funding that could be doled out at a larger balloon level).
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by Tide
    I believe many services should begin to be shared between towns in New Jersey starting with DPW and Police forces. This is the first step to sharing costs and lessening the workforce of each individual municipality. The next step would be much harder to have one town agree to be dissolved into another or two or more towns agree to make a new town. But then what will the old mayor do? What will the planning board chairman do? The preception of them 'loosing' power will surely hurt them and therein lies the logjam to this whole concept. The people in 'power' don't want to give up that 'power' (and I use quotes to show that the power is more of a perception than an acutal power). If small town politicos can get over their fragile egos than consolidation can deffinetly beifit tax payers everywhere.
    Economizing on resources and realizing economies of scale are problems of economic calculation. Of course it makes sense for you to do it, but that doesn't change the fact that they're not going to do it because it's not in their interest.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Michigan has over 1000 municipalities and little talk of consolidation. The Michigan Township Association is well funded and is working hard to make sure consolidation does not occur.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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