In his State of the State address last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made the absurd claim that he can save taxpayers money by consolidating local governments.
Who is Cuomo trying to kid?
Cuomo’s claim that consolidating local governments saves money is yet another example of a politician offering a simplistic solution to a complicated problem, instead of dealing with the cause of the problem in the first place.
The problem is not too many levels of local government; the problem is government corruption.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s George Washington Bridge scandal is making national headlines, but it is just the most current example of a corrupt government costing American taxpayers outrageous amounts of money.
Corruption is the way of the world in State and local politics in the good old USA.
When Governor Cuomo says the State has far too many governments, he likes to cite reports like the recent report from the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, that Monroe and Wayne counties have the highest property taxes in the nation compared to the value of the homes.
But, not only is that claim is almost impossible to verify if you look at the statistics published on the Tax Foundation’s website, the claim doesn’t make any sense.
We're all so clogged with dead ideas passed from generation to generation that even the best of us don't know the way out.
The Village of Brockport is located in the Town of Sweden. Village residents pay both village and town taxes. Non-village residents pay only town taxes.
In 2010, the residents of Brockport overwhelmingly voted down a proposal to merge with the Town of Sweden, with good reason.
The Village of Brockport has consolidated some services with the Town of Sweden, but the town has always used the consolidation to rip off the village residents.
For as long as anyone can remember, the court systems in Brockport and Sweden have been consolidated. But the village has always gotten the short end of the stick from the town.
It’s a textbook case of dirty politics as usual.
The vast majority of the traffic tickets processed by the Sweden Town Court are written by the Brockport Police Department. The revenue from those tickets not only pays for the entire cost of the Sweden Town Court, it provides the Town of Sweden with an enormous amount of surplus income.
But even though the residents of the Village of Brockport pay for 100% of the cost of the Brockport Police Department, and the residents of the Town of Sweden pay absolutely nothing toward the cost of the Brockport Police Department, the Town of Sweden keeps 100% of that revenue and does not return a single cent of the revenues from those tickets to the Village of Brockport.
They could but they don’t.
The consolidation has been such an abject failure that even the local newspaper, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, published a front page story about it. On February 29, 2012 the D&C published the complete police report filed about a box of confidential information missing from the Sweden Town Clerk’s office.
The nearly 200 uncollected parking tickets that the Sweden Town Court had neglected to deal with in any way, shape or form, was stored in an ordinary cardboard box on the floor under the desk of the Deputy Town Clerk.
The story is so gross that it was even featured on the Dallas Evening News website, even though Dallas, Texas is 1,422 miles from the Town of Sweden.
The Sweden Town Court didn’t bother to process the parking tickets because, by law, 100% of the revenue from parking tickets goes to the village rather than to the town. So the Town of Sweden and the Sweden Town Court chose to violate the law rather than enforce a law that would generate revenue for the Village.
Why? Because the Republicans control the Town of Sweden and the Democrats control the Village of Brockport. It is run of the mill sleazy American politics.
But that is not the only scandal involving the government of the Town of Sweden. The town government is a disgrace.
In March 2009, Sweden Town Supervisor Buddy Lester had to resign after he and five other lawyers were charged with failing to file New York State tax returns, a Class E felony.
Then, in June 2012, Sweden Town Justice Carl Coapman had to resign suddenly after it became public that he had been intoxicated while presiding over a court hearing.
So why would any reasonable person in the Village of Brockport want to consolidate their government with the government of the town of Sweden?
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, needs to do his homework before he makes any more statements about the pros and cons of government consolidation.