Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Good start to an idea ...

Here is an idea by the New York State Attorney General's office that is gaining some notoriety lately.

It approaches the idea of lowering taxes by eliminating some government and giving the taxpayers an easier route to the referendum process (or it seems to give the county executive the power to call for a mandatory referendum, because allowing the county executive to unilaterally consolidate would run contrary to the idea of the referendum process. Additionally allowing "the entire county" to vote on the fate of particular villages, towns or districts or to have a sort of "general vote" on the idea of consolidation would also not allow enough specificity as to the structural requirements of consolidation and all of its consequences but would instead lend itself to demagoguery and political grandstanding).

First, the idea has merit, if only as a starting place for a real, comprehensive discussion.

If we eliminate some forms government, the work still must get done (unless we are willing to reduce services), so what will be the cost of the new entity doing the same work and what will be the short term and long term savings if any?

What are the best practices of existing forms of government (in New York or elsewhere) and how do we implement them state-wide?

What forms of government are involved? Counties, towns, school districts or just special districts and villages? How do we reform the larger entities where presumably the new duties will be going and where most of the tax dollars go presently?

Why not have regularly scheduled referenda (see Referendum Cycles on this site)? Every 3 to 5 years. Why make taxpayers have to gather signatures at all?

How does the Attorney General's idea mesh with past or current studies on the same, similar or interrelated subjects?

To us the idea of 10,000 governmental entities sounds like a big number, and perhaps it is. But in reality it is not a big technical job to catalog and analyze this "group." In fact that should be our first step prior to any legislation.

As we've said previously, a big problem in New York and elsewhere is the lack of a "common language." I won't bore you with the details as I've bored some of you in excruciating detail on this very subject over the 300 or so posts.

How can we make intelligent choices without trusted, verified and dynamic information?

Maybe the Attorney General already has it 100% correct.

The sad part is that we'll never know.

We should know.

We should demand to know.

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