Joining Forces For a Better Community

Cartoon by Derek Zimmerman
Cartoon by Derek Zimmerman

It is time for the Town and Village of New Paltz to merge into a single body of government.

A consolidation of these two governing bodies would reduce costs for taxpayers and make clearer some of the murky boundaries that separate village and town. In a time when local budgets across the nation are passed after having made huge sacrifices to services, taken hefty tolls on taxpayers’ wallets or both, we believe the study being conducted for this summer is New Paltz’s opportunity to finally decide on a plan to reduce its personal costs and the complexity of the local government they live under.

Although hard data on the amount residents could save from a possible merge is not yet available, it is certain that residents living in the new body of government will profit from a variety of benefits that municipalities often enjoy after consolidating services.

Advantages of a merge between the town and village could include fewer local governmental employees to pay, less in fighting between local officials and a greater means of cooperation amongst town and/or village elected representatives, obligatory costs of the town like health insurance and highway services could be reduced, and a “greater purchasing power” under the new body of government.

According to SUNY New Paltz professor of state and local politics Gerald Benjamin, many municipalities are often resistant to efforts towards consolidation.

“Although the layering and complexity of local government in New York increases costs and reduces the accountability of elected officials to the citizenry,” he was quoted in “New York State Government” by Robert B. Ward, “efforts to reduce the number of local governments have met with little success.”

We believe a merge is legitimate, and we strongly believe consolidating New Paltz services and/or government will be a great benefit to the community.

New York Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo made government consolidation in New York State part of his platform as he campaigned in the gubernatorial election.

“Government in New York is too big, ineffective and expensive,” Cuomo’s website said. “We must make it easier to consolidate or share services among our more than 10,000 local governments.”

By voting to merge the town and the village, residents can reduce what they’re paying and advantage their municipality with a number of benefits that consolidated governments enjoy.

We hope that residents of New Paltz acknowledge this and bring it to a vote next year.