Here are some common questions & answers about the 2010 NY Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, or GRACE for short.
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Q: What is the purpose of the 2010 NY GRACE Laws?
A: The short answer is to eliminate expensive & redundant local government levels within New York State that are overburdening the state and it's taxpayers. The GRACE laws changes the way local government entities can be consolidated or dissolved by allowing for an easier, more well defined process to be run.
The GRACE change specifically is directed at the lowest levels of incorporated NY State Government, Village Government or Special Districts
Q: How does the GRACE law make it easier to consolidate or eliminate redundant government?
A: Specifically GRACE provides TWO methods to reorganize local government levels. Under the GRACE law, a consolidation or dissolution of a local government entity may be initiated by that local entity’s governing body (Village Board), or by an initiative petition of electors residing in a particular entity (Village Residents).
While the preferred method of NY Government consolidation or dissolution is through a Village Board initiated process, the law also provides a method for empowered citizens to request their Village consider consolidation or dissolution though a Village Dissolution Referendum that would be put up for vote in that local government entity, (ie. Village Dissolution Vote)
Q: What if my local Village Leadership does not want to dissolve or consolidate with our Town voluntarily to save costs?
A: The NY State GRACE law allows for citizens to petition the local government level, a Village in this example, to consider implementing government reorganization. This is done through signed petitions, which will prompt a New York State funded, review & development of the Village Reorganization Study. This study & subsequent report would review how the Village would be dissolved or consolidated as well as what current services would be transferred or eliminated.
The citizen-initiated process is triggered by the filing of a petition containing the signatures of at least 10 percent of the electors (Village Voters) or 5,000 electors, whichever is less, in each local government entity to be consolidated or dissolved.
For small entities with 500 or fewer electors, a petition must contain the signatures of at least 20 percent of the electors.
Q: If a citizen initiated consolidation effort passes the initial Village Vote, what happens next?
A: Once the Citizen Referendum passes the real work begins. The Village Leadership Team will work to develop a reorganization plan taking a comprehensive look at the benefits & drawbacks of a government reduction, including whether consolidation with the local Town would be the best option or if a complete Village Dissolution would be best for taxpayers.
This Village Dissolution Plan development uses funding provided by the GRACE law to select a third party, that would help create a plan similar to the one shown below (click image to see that Village's Dissolution Plan):
Q: What happens after the Village Reorganization Plan is completed, is the Village automatically dissolved or consolidated?
A: No, the initial Village electorate vote that prompted Village Leadership to create the Dissolution Plan does not guarantee government consolidation, it only started the process. Since every local NY government reorganization is a unique process, similar to the uniqueness of each NY village, the proposed Village Dissolution/Consolidation plan will be reviewed by the Village, and if needed the surrounding Township to understand impacts.
If the Village residents agree with the Reorganization Plan, a second vote will be taken after the government reorganization plan is reviewed & approved. If the Village (and Town on all Consolidations) votes through the proposal, the approved plan will be followed and the local government will be eliminated.
Q: Our Village has a Fire Department, a Police Department and also provides refuse service. Will we lose all those amenities with a Village Dissolution?
A: As stated before, each Village dissolution or consolidation is unique.
The only thing that is going to reduced for certain, is the expensive cost of local government and the tax burden to Village Residents.
That is the core benefit of the New York State Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act and has been delivered already in many NY Village dissolutions that have occurred already.
Beyond these taxpayer reductions, the Reorganization Plan developed by each local government looking to dissolve, will indicate if a current service, like a Police Department, is dissolved or transferred to the Township that the Village resides in.
In many cases these services can be provided by other state or local agencies as needed, for a fraction of the cost the Village had. Most Villages in NY State have seen significant savings as well as the Towns they are part of. Many Villages & Towns wish they had undertaken this reduction sooner.
Q: Can a Township Dissolve or Consolidate?
A: No, Towns in NY are exempt from the NY State GRACE laws.
In the eyes of New York State Legislation the three main levels of government that will work most efficiently & interact effectively are as follows: State - County - Township.
The need for a fourth NY Government, that lower & smaller level of the Village, is seen as an undue burden to both New York State operations as well as the Taxpayers in those Villages & surrounding Towns.
NY Lawmakers have identified the financial & logistic issues with Village Government with the GRACE Law, it's now up to New York's Village residents to act in the best interest of the State, and local taxpayers.
Your own Village Leadership should heed the message, and stop looking out for only their best interest and do "the right thing" for the Village & Town residents they serve.
Q: What will happen to Village employees as a result of Government Reorganization, will they all lose their jobs?
A: While some of the Village Leadership positions may be reduced or eliminated as a result of Village Dissolution, many of village employees with critical knowledge or shill sets may find they are transferred to similar roles within the Town, and will still serve their communities.
Likewise with residents that enjoy volunteering in their communities. Those residents who have become "ex-Villagers" and served on Tree, Parks & Historical Preservation boards in the old Village, can now offer their time and resources to their Township to make their entire community a better place to live.
Some village employees may be downsized of course, with any reorganization effort. But in most cases any employee agreements for village officials or workers will be honored in a Dissolution or Consolidation effort, at least for the length of their remaining terms.
Q: Where can I learn more about the NY State Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Law?
A: Right here. We have placed data on current operating costs of many local government here, both Town & Village levels. We have also placed links to many of the best documents out there on NY GRACE and also historical reference to successful Village Dissolution Plans.
The best thing any Village residents can do is to become educated on this topic so they are well informed when it comes time to vote for Govt. Reduction in their own Town or Village.
Many Village Leaders & Employees may fight the movement to dissolve for obvious reasons... which may not be in the best interest of the residents they serve. In order to understand if Dissolution or Consolidation is right, each villager needs to be well informed and be able to recognize when those who are in opposition to Government Reorganization are spreading facts or fear.
Q: Is there a Manual on this Village Reorganization Petition process?
A: Yes, great question. There is a Citizen Guide to Village Petitions and also a Flow Chart that explains the entire process, step by step. Click the links below for more information or to open the files for review.
From what has been written about NYS Government Reorganization, the single most important factor that has been identified as critical to the success of the GRACE Law is a well-informed & educated public. Without this, the tendency is to make this simple choice to save taxpayer money by reducing layers of government, becomes an "emotional or political" argument... which serves village leaders quite well, but not the public that supports them with tax dollars.
Village dissolution can fast become a topic that divides some communities before it unites them for the common good of all NY State Taxpayers. Especially if the village leadership plays to the fears and uncertainty that changes like this bring along, which is one of the methods used the most.
While it's certain that the gain from the NY GRACE change is a more efficient local government system, which reduces overall taxpayer cost, many village leaders and some residents seem to focus on what will be lost... and speculate openly. Nothing but speculation, as each Village Reorganization is different, just like each canal village is different.
By simply taking advantage of the GRACE Law Grant funding being offered to Village Leaders, this whole matter of "what might be" can be solved. Initiate the Village Reorganization Study, review the findings & recommendations, and if these do not fit then the Village Leaders can rally the community to vote against the plan.
At least we will have all seen what the Village Government Reorganization Plan stated.
A passing Vote for Village Reorganization by Village Residents isn't the end to a Village... it's just the start of understanding & identifying what will be gained, and what may be lost by FORCING and unwilling Village Leadership Team to create the Village Reorganization Plan that puts this all matters of the Village into perspective.
This statement needs to be made...
NY Lawmakers have identified the financial & logistical issues with Village Government with the GRACE Law, it's now up to New York's Village residents to act in the best interest of the State, and local taxpayers.
Your own Village Leadership should heed the message, and stop looking out for only their own best interest and do "the right thing" for the Village & Town residents they serve. The Village Leaders CAN order the Reorganization Plan themselves, making this whole process much easier.
What are they hiding by not doing it? Why would they choose to divide a community?
Here are a few more links that hold important information... Click & Read
The QR Code below can be opened with a click or point your smartphone camera at it and the website for local NY Villages that are considering Government Reorganization will open.
Android users may need to open a QR Code Reader App
Join our EMAIL LIST for announcements regarding Village Reorganization in your area, click the image below to sign up..