An Opinion Piece... one that should make you think.
High New York State taxes, aren’t a myth. It’s not “fake news” or some hoax invented by someone looking for personal gain. The fact that New York State is the “highest taxed state to live in", for the entire country, should be a concern to each and every tax-paying resident in our state.
We should be demanding answers, asking what can be done to turn this around. It’s time for citizens to become empowered and ask for answers... or maybe we don't know that the answer is already there?
Fortunately New York Lawmakers are looking at solutions for our high taxes, and have come up with methods to reduce the over-taxation of New York residents. In fact, a State Law was passed in 2010, the Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act (or GRACE for short), with the sole purpose of reducing unnecessary tax collection in New York State Villages. It is a much needed change that most state residents know little about, especially how it can save them thousands of dollars per year. This IS an answer to high taxes in our state, but why don't people listen?
The GRACE Laws changed existing NY State Laws regarding “local governments”, making it easier to combine & consolidate Town & Village municipalities together and thereby reduce “redundant govt. services”. GRACE also enabled local VILLAGE governments within New York the ability to obtain a Village Reorganization Study & Plan for FREE, just by requesting one from state leaders. That study and plan becomes the guideline the Village will follow, and also is voted on by Village TAX-PAYING Residents prior to adoption. All of this is an attempt to reduce the nearly 600 small local governments across the state.
The GRACE changes also provided a method for those same “taxpaying voters” within a Village, to FORCE their local Village leadership, the 7 ELECTED Officials in a Village, to get this Government Reorganization Plan initiated. It’s supposed to be used when village leaders are “unwilling” to ask for the Reorg Plan themselves. It’s called an Elector-Initiated Village Reorganization and can accomplish the same goal through the voting process, forcing Village Leaders to initiate the Reorganization Study and develop the PLAN for the Village.
The goal of the GRACE legislation is to get these Village Reorganization Study & Plans completed, so that Village taxpayers can judge for themselves what the best course of action is for the Village Government & their TAX dollars required to maintain that Village Government. The PREFERRED method for this required Reorganization Plan is to be supported & initiated by Village Officials who acknowledge the GRACE law, its goals, and simply ask the State Secretary for the Study & Plan. It's all free, yes...FREE.
Meeting this goal, getting a Village to initiate a study, is not always the case, even though everyone should understand that high Village Tax Burdens keep some people from spending tax dollars” elsewhere, which really might help the economy and those residents.
Instead, village tax dollars go towards perpetuating a level of NYS Government deemed “unnecessary” by this GRACE law. Why anyone would try to argue against the simple logic of this law is beyond comprehension. But this village government issue isn’t just about saving tax money, it’s about public officials who seem too afraid of what the GRACE Reorganization plan might reveal. It's about groups of village residents being scared in submission by their local elected village leaders, who seem more keen on keeping their positions, instead of serving the best interest of their constituents, their Towns and their State.
Elected Village Officials must realize that asking for the Government Reorganization Study is in every village resident’s best interest, but not necessarily their own. But they are ELECTED leaders for the Village, by Village Taxpayers, and if they are “hiding” the truth from those same folks they have “pledged” to look out for, there are not doing anyone any good…but themselves. We all understand about “self-preservation” especially in the area of jobs, but scoffing the New York State laws meant to protect “The People” just for Village leaderships own “personal gain” can’t be tolerated… at ANY level of Government in New York.
The reason the ECNA supports the GRACE work is simple, it holds our elected officials accountable, to the taxpayers that support them and that they are supposed to be serving. If for no other reason the Village Elected Officials should be initiating the Government Reorganization Study simply to bring an END to the division it is causing by NOT having done it already…it’s been 10 years. If NYS Lawmakers said it's time to study Village Government, it's time Village Leadership listened...isn't it?
What are your Village Leaders waiting for?
What are your Village Leaders hiding?
The SOLUTION to the issue of Local Village Reorganization shouldn’t be about anything else than FOLLOWING the LAW and asking for the State-Funded Reorganization Study & Plan, the same plan outlined in the GRACE Law of 2010. That will show taxpayers the true cost of Village Government and how much they can SAVE if it is reorganized, consolidated or even dissolved. The PLAN will outline what Village Services transfer to the Town. The PLAN will show where TAX SAVINGS are possible with little to no impact on services to the few square miles called a village.
Don’t be deceived, NO ONE can say what will happen in any Village under reorganization until the PLAN is created, and that is done by an independent third party, free of charge, just for the asking. So again, the ECNA believes that each Village taxpayer owes it to their state, to ask their own LOCAL VILLAGE GOVERNMENT to request the Reorganization Plan for their own Village.