Now is the time to begin consolidation
The State Comptroller’s report on Gloversville’s financial condition should suggest to people it’s time to think outside the box before things get worse.
One source of the problem facing not only Gloversville, but much of upstate New York is that our political jurisdictions – the lines dividing our towns, villages and cities – were drawn up before the days of electricity or the automobile, not to mention the computer.
The truth is it no longer makes any sense to have so many local political entities each unable to use to full capacity their inventory of buildings, equipment and yes, people. The problems facing Gloversville were made worse when so many middle-class people moved outside city limits. By the same token, towns, villages and small school districts have difficulty managing their finances. Too often, these entities show up in comptroller audits as having violated basic accounting and management principles, wasting taxpayer money and undermining service delivery.
The solution is as simple as it is radical: consolidate over a five- to 10-year period every town, village, and the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown into Fulton County government. The end result would save taxpayers millions while improving service quality. In terms of economic development, having the county working to attract and maintain businesses would be more productive than having each of the present small jurisdictions – all with limited resources – compete against each other as well as against the rest of the state.
Look at the western United States where later settlement meant fewer government entities. Large county governments provide services for millions of residents. People don’t want for police or fire protection, their trash gets picked up, and buses manage to get their kids to the right school on time – all at lower tax rates than we pay in upstate New York.
No wonder people keep moving out of New York. They can see we’re stuck doing business according to the 19th-century rules and boundaries. The time to begin the consolidation process is now.
PETER G. POLLAK