New York state residents concerned about the growing cost of government as a result of duplicating services and overlapping administrations sure aren't showing their displeasure at the polls.
For the second time in four years, residents of the village of Brockport, near Rochester, on Tuesday voted down a proposal to dissolve the village and turn over operations to the surrounding town of Sweden.
In the past five years, only about 10 villages out of more than 500 in the state have supported dissolution. Several proposals have been voted down.
Opponents of the Brockport merger -- which not coincidentally included the mayor and the police chief, both of whom would have been out of a job had it gone through -- downplayed the potential tax savings and scared the residents into thinking they would lose police protection.
So as a result of the vote, there remain 549 villages in New York state, situated all or in part within 932 towns, along with 62 cities, all within 62 counties. That's over 1,600 government bodies, not counting the state of New York. With that many entities overseeing our every movement, there is bound to be duplication and waste.
Do we really need a village law when we have a town law saying essentially the same thing? Couldn't town zoning and planning codes be adapted to cover population centers like villages, just as they cover hamlets and large neighborhoods? Do we really need four separate police forces (state police, county sheriff's, town and village police) to keep most small communities safe? Four administrations and staff? Four police contracts? Four headquarters?
The tax savings from dissolution might not be much initially, since people are going to want to retain many of the same services they had.
In Brockport, they'd still need a police presence to manage the village area and SUNY Brockport. Maybe for the first couple of years, they'd keep all the jobs and all the police cars and maybe even the police station.
And yes, you still need highway crews, since you'll still have the same miles of roads to plow and the same number of potholes to fill every year.
But over time, these departments will realize efficiencies by doing without so many supervisors through attrition, or making better use of manpower allocations and purchases through economies of scale. The cost of government would gradually go down, resulting in either lower taxes or a redistribution of tax dollars for other needs, such as road maintenance or water and sewer upgrades.
Some argue that consolidation and sharing of services and purchases can accomplish the same thing as full dissolution of a government entity, but without the angst. But by consolidating and sharing, aren't we in a sense negating the need for so many separate government entities?
If New York taxpayers are serious about saving themselves money and making government more efficient, then they need to give up their emotional ties to traditional community alignments and think about a future where less government works better than more.