One county. That’s a nice start, but what else could we eliminate while we’re in a consolidating mood?
Every one of us have looked at our tax bills and asked, “What does that do?” We have over 900 governments on Long Island including parks, water, fire, garbage, school, library, lighting, erosion and even elevator districts, not to mention towns, villages and the occasional city. Bottom line: We have too many layers of government on this Island, and if half of it was gone tomorrow, most of us wouldn’t miss it. That is as long as the trash was collected, our kids were taught and nobody got stuck in an elevator.
I happen to think county government can be the most efficient and if we can get rid of one of the counties, even better. In parts of Northern Virginia, counties are the only game in town. There, taxes are low, schools are world-class and last time I checked, the streets weren’t overflowing with garbage. Businesses are flocking there and it isn’t because we have winter and they technically don’t.
I will take our four-week winter over their six-month intolerable summer any time. If the county was plowing all the roads, perhaps they would be plowed more efficiently. If the county was the only negotiating unit, just think of how much purchasing power it would have. Regional planning would have a real chance. We spend billions on government on Long Island and most is wasted through endless bureaucracies that strangle business with slow process even when it works correctly.
We’ve been in this economic crisis for two years now and have yet to see any local movement toward consolidation. We’re wasting this crisis. Now is the time to fix this mess that is a relic of failed planning. Long Island didn’t start booming until the 1940s. Our local governments sprung up to fill a growing need for services demanded by an increasing population. Our largest towns still cling to systems of governance conceived in the mid-17th century when the entire Island had a population of less than 100,000.
Now we’re faced with shrinking budgets and an overtaxed population. Our young people are leaving and it’s harder to attract new business here. Gov. Andrew Cuomo wisely set up a process that gives us an option to consolidate.
We should use it now. Let’s not waste another dollar.