PLATTSBURGH - New Yorkers now have a new tool at their disposal to spark change in local and state government.
During a press conference held at Plattsburgh Town Hall July 25, state Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled the state's new Web site, www.reformynygov.com. The purpose of the Web site, said Cuomo, is to give New York residents an overview of the number of governments in the state and to motivate discussion about what changes, if any, are needed in government.
The Web site, Cuomo explained, was created in support of the New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, signed into law June 25. The new law streamlines procedures for consolidating local governments and, if needed, empowers citizens to initiate the local government consolidation or dissolution process by petition.
"If the local politicians don't do it, it makes it easier for the citizens to actually put it on the ballot and vote on it," Cuomo said. "I believe the citizen empowerment option is going to create an energy that makes the local officials really look at this issue seriously."
According to figures presented by Cuomo during the press conference, there are 10,521 different forms of government within New York State. The governments include counties, cities, towns and villages, as well as lighting, sewer, water, drainage, refuse, park, school, fire, fire protection and other special districts.
"That means every morning when you wake up, that's 10,521 light switches, 10,521 payrolls, 10,521 fleets of cars, 10,521 offices," said Cuomo. "Every morning, it's that overhead and we've been adding more and more governments as we go along."
"We have parts of the state where we're losing people, and we're adding governments," he added. "This is the issue."
The Reform New York Web site features an interactive map that lists the number of governments within each of the state's 62 counties. Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties are within the median range with 143, 134 and 136 local governments, respectively, though there are counties of similar geographic size and population above and below those numbers.