ALBANY—Flanked by a small army of elected officials at the Long Island Association in Melville, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo presented, as promised, a bill that would make it easier to consolidate local governments, and in the process, help keep property taxes down.
"We represent, historically, the people as consumers," Cuomo said of his office. "When I became attorney general, I added a new priority, which was government reform."
This bill, Cuomo explained, arises out of the need to represent citizens "as taxpayers against government." Suburban voters will no doubt be delighted.
His proposal would not mandate consolidation, but it would allow for the dissolution of a governing body—like a town, village, or special district—after a citizen petition or referendum.
The bodies could also move to dissolve themselves, and county heads could develop and push for plans to pare small subdistricts, subject to the approval of voters within those districts. Cuomo's bill memo is below.
At an event lasting nearly an hour (that I listened to via conference call), Cuomo presented the plan, then stepped back to hear praise from the elected officials who gathered. They included Republican State Senator John Flanagan, Republican Assembly members Michael Fitzpatrick, Fred Thiele, and Phil Boyle, and Democratic Assembly members Robert Sweeney and Patricia Eddington. Eddington gave Cuomo "accolades" for finally acting on the issue, and Boyle thanked him "for his leadership."
The four legislative leaders in the Senate and Assembly have given the bill positive reviews, and said they expected to pass it this session. Cuomo said he was "cautiously optimistic."
David Paterson said Tuesday he hasn't been involved in the ongoing negotiations of turning the proposal into legislation, but he supported the it when the plan was first unveiled. A spokesman had no immediate comment.
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