Friday, June 19, 2009

Consolidation is Needed in Saugerties

Let's cross our fingers that Governor Paterson signs New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act. (A08501 in the Assembly and S.5661 in the Senate). Who could dispute the need for consolidation of Saugerties governments?

The Village of Saugerties places an inordinate tax burden on residential land owners. A typical Village of Saugerties home costs more to own than some of the finest digs of Long Island. And for what? Services are minimal and are made even more inefficient by patronage, waste, low moral and lax supervision.

With the new bill 10% of Village residents are required to get a referendum on the ballot. This is a great opportunity to empower the people by giving them a vote. Let's get to it! Read the Senate bill in its entirely:

It's time to organize and get a petition together. Please contact me at (845) 247-0909 or comment on this article.

Saugerties Village Consolidation


Cuomo’s “New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act,” will make it easier for New Yorkers to dissolve or consolidate the 10,500 local government entities that burden residents with nation’s highest local taxes

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 3, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today hailed the New York State Senate for passing his historic “New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act,” giving citizens the power to dissolve or consolidate the many layers of local government that have contributed to New York having the nation’s highest local taxes.

The measure passed in the Senate today by a vote of 46 to 16. Cuomo’s bill was prime sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Sen. Betty Little. On June 1, the bill passed the state Assembly. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.

“I commend the state Senate for taking action on such a critical issue and giving local communities the ability to reduce government overhead and cut property taxes,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “New York is now at an historic crossroads decades in the making. Taxpayers may soon be truly empowered to create long overdue efficiencies in local governments and special districts across our state. I thank the Governor for his support throughout the process and I look forward to this bill finally giving New York’s overburdened taxpayers the ability, where appropriate, to streamline their local governments and cut their property taxes.”

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith (D- WF-14th District) said, “Cutting wasteful government spending through government consolidation and eliminating unnecessary and costly layers of bureaucracy will reduce the crushing tax burden on millions of middle-income New Yorkers. During times of financial distress, we must find a way to do more with less, and that includes government. This bill empowers individual communities to determine the size of their government through a lasting process of reform that could potentially save millions in local property taxes. I applaud the Attorney General, as well as Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Betty Little for their work on this legislation and their innovative approach to reducing the tax burden on New York families.”

Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-35th District), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Local Governments and lead sponsor of this legislation said, “After 75 years of discussion about making government more effective and making spending more efficient, the Senate has passed legislation that truly empowers our communities and will help address the burden of property taxes on families across the State of New York. The outstanding component of this bill, in my opinion, is that it is the taxpayers who will decide how to best enhance the delivery of services and achieve savings locally. Attorney General Cuomo is to be commended for his diligence in advancing this measure, and for partnering with me and my colleagues in the Senate to address the bi-partisan issues of government reorganization and citizen empowerment that are important to all of us. This is the first step, but it is a very big first step, towards meaningful government reform and consolidation.”

Senator Betty Little (R-C-IP-45th District), ranking Republican on the Senate Local Government Committee, said, “Having chaired the Senate Local Government Committee for several years, I know how needlessly confusing our municipal laws are. This complexity helps no one and, instead, makes it difficult for local governments and the taxpayers they serve to adapt to hanging times. Attorney General Cuomo’s bill is a smart and long overdue streamlining of many of these laws. It removes cumbersome barriers and encourages efficiency with the goal of better, less costly government. Simply put, it’s about saving taxpayer dollars.”

Cuomo’s “New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act,” is designed to cut government waste, reduce taxes, and provide vital services in a more efficient manner. Currently, the state’s overlapping governments saddle residents with the nation’s highest local taxes.

Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), said, “There are many layers of local government that seemed like a good idea when put in place, but now are etched into stone by statute and legal requirements despite having outlived their usefulness. The Attorney General’s proposal would allow- not mandate -citizens and local governments to choose to have smarter, more efficient local government. Most important, voters would always get the final say on all major decisions.”

Gerald Benjamin, distinguished professor of political science at SUNY New Paltz and former member of the Lundine Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness said, “I am very pleased that the bill has now passed the state Legislature and I appreciate the Attorney General’s leadership on the issue. It is an important step in making the rationalization of local government structures in New York possible while remaining respectful of local community values. I look forward to the governor signing it soon.”

Kenneth Adams, president & CEO, The Business Council of New York State said, “Consolidation is essential to making local government services more efficient and cost-effective. It is a key step toward reducing the crushing burden of local taxes and making New York competitive again. To create private sector job growth, we must reduce the cost of government in New York and this bill is an important part of that process.”

Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, said, “Attorney General Cuomo is to be applauded for showing exceptional leadership in putting forward this bill. Upon receipt of the Governor's signature, it will vastly simplify the process by which concerned citizens can work towards the consolidation, streamlining and reform of Special Taxing Districts.”

Cuomo’s comprehensive legislative plan will streamline the often Byzantine and cumbersome process of consolidating local governmental entities, including the myriad special districts across the state. The proposal will not mandate consolidation; rather, it restructures the law to allow citizens, local officials, and counties to make the decisions themselves.

In all, there are more than 10,500 governmental entities imposing taxes and fees across New York State. This includes towns, villages, districts, and special districts such as water, sewer, and lighting districts.

As the state’s chief legal officer, Attorney General Cuomo is often tasked with advising local governments on the laws regulating them. It is clear that current laws are filled with inconsistencies and complexities making meaningful reform virtually unattainable. Attorney General Cuomo’s bill repeals and amends these outdated laws to allow for meaningful reform of local governments throughout the state.

For more information about Attorney General Cuomo’s “New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act” and to view an interactive map detailing special districts in New York State by county, visit

Senate Passes Bill to Ease Government Consolidation

Published: June 4, 2009

ALBANY — The Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would make it easier to cut or consolidate layers of local government in New York, a measure that supporters hailed as a significant step toward relieving tax burdens across the state.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Sicko" - Healthcare Reform Equals a Strong Economy!

Watch Michael Moore's "Sicko" and learn what's really at stake if our legislators don't enact real healthcare reform. Moore does not play favors, poking fun wherever the money leads. You’ll laugh till it hurts!

The topic is timely, given Obama’s initiative to offer the public healthcare at affordable prices. Our country’s financial crisis was due in part by the unabashed greed and corruption of a “profits at any cost” philosophy. American businesses need the competitive edge that a public healthcare option would provide. Big pharmaceuticals, HMOs and the healthcare industry pour millions into lobbying to maintain the status quo. They are protecting their bottom line while making basic healthcare out of reach for working families.

Join Saugerties neighbors and friends at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore at the corner of Main and Partition Streets in the Village of Saugerties, July 19, 2009 at 7:00PM to watch Michael Moore’s “Sicko”. The atmosphere is casual with lively conversation about the need to support real healthcare reform. The “agent provocateur”, as described in Rolling Stone magazine also created documentaries including Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, and Fahrenheit 9/11.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No Hors'n Around

At last night's Saugerties Village Board meeting, mayor Yerick opened with a salvo against the "jerk... idiot... 22 year old" who irreparably damaged one of the Hors'n Around Saugerties horses. "What in the hell gives these kids the right", the mayor continued as he explained that there was probably more than the 3 horses that have already been damaged.

Not children friendly

Apparently there have been other unforeseen issues that have arisen with the artful horses. Trustee Myers' report to the board included a child who "bumped" her face with the corner of one of the horses' metal bases. It seems that the bases on all 48 horses have protruding metal corners which are at eye-level to most children. "It's hard for a child to see them", Myers nervously chuckled, continuing to ensure a wary public that road department ground down the corners immediately after being alerted to the problem. "It's been quite a job keeping up with the horses..." she added. Mayor Yerick ended with a plea for anyone who witnesses suspicious activity around the horses to call the police immediately. "I can't understand why anyone would sit a child on these horses... they are beautiful pieces of art". Adding to the vandalism, it seems that folks have been seen sitting their pleading toddlers on the horses.

Running out of juice

Can you imagine that the little Village of Saugerties has reached full capacity and needs electrical upgrades? Well, it's true according to Alex Wade. Central Hudson will need to install 70 new utility poles. The problem is that CH will have to cut down some old shade trees in order to complete the upgrades. The Mayor explained that Verizon and Time Warner share these utility poles and they have "thousands of law suits" pending against them and he is "not optimistic" that they will comply will the Central Hudson pole transfers leaving old poles next to the 70 new poles and an unsightly mess. Kelly Myers is in charge of protecting the trees and the historical "integrity of our streets".

DOT changes its terms

The multi-million dollar Village water and sewer separation work agreement that has been planned for many years has run into financial trouble. New York State DOT wants the Village of Saugerties to pay for the construction costs upfront before the work begins. Then, as Alex Wade explained, "... we [Village of Saugerties] will bill DOT for the work when they are completed." The Mayor went on to assure the public that he has called all the politicians and representatives for their help and is hopeful something can be worked out.

"Oh yea... I'm abstaining"

The financial abstract for last month's Village expenses was approved unanimously (Campbell and Moore absent) with Trustee Murphy abstaining. At first Mayor Yerick seemed surprised, though with a smile and wink remembered that Trustee Murphy's trash services are included in the abstract of bills. Oh yea... I forgot.

Squeezing in another subdivision

A "Major Subdivision" request is in the progress. John Duran who owns property at the end of Main Street is requesting permission to subdivide his village property into several smaller parcels, "... for his kids".