Saturday, December 15, 2007

SHOULD VOTERS HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE ON TOWN/County BUDGETS?

New York State law provides for an annual school budget vote. Voters give a thumbs up or down on budgets each year. When school budgets are voted down an austerity budget is approved.
Should NYS law be amended to provide voters with the opportunity to vote on municipal/county budgets each year? There would be more public involvement in the process.
Over the years I have advocated initiative and referendum procedures---I feel that voters should have the right to propose laws, place them on the ballot (after a significant number of signatures are collected) and overrule municipal, county & state officials. What do you think?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

NO!!!!

Anonymous said...

It can't work in Greenburgh since we're still organized with the old-fashioned village-unincorporated setup. The town budget would always be voted down, and the austerity budget would become the norm, which would eventually result in padding the austerity budget. For villages and cities, though, it might work well. Greenburgh (unincorporated) should become a city.

Anonymous said...

Greenburgh will never become a city because too many people are opposed.

Anonymous said...

Voting on school budget makes some sense. It is a one-issue matter and people know something about schools.

Residents don't know how to run a municipality. They want services and won't give them up, but they don't want to pay taxes. The fighting among neighborhoods would be even worse than it is now, since organizing voters will become the norm.

No, having a represtative government works. We just need good elected officials.

Anonymous said...

"We just need good elected officials."

and term-limits.

Anonymous said...

Why did you reject the request Lasser made during his campaign that the people be allowed to vote on the purchase of Taxter Ridge?

Anonymous said...

Lasser made that request?

Why do we only vote on things that Feiner doesnt want, like the library?

Anonymous said...

The problem is what many have said What Feiner votes against the board votes yes ,if its yes the board votes no.
This has been going on for sometime.
As far as voting for different budgets as we all know there's always a fix on for one reason or another.
Take school budgets,how many times have they been voted down especially in Edgemont,and then students are intimidated .
What happens next the budget that was voted down is voted in.
It makes no difference how the people vote anymore what is wanted is pushed through one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

School Budgets have been voted down twice in 30 years, once 3 years ago after Feiner supporters lobbied hard against it, and owing to a small turnout was voted down. With a larger turnout it was easily voted in, as was this years.

Anonymous said...

Voting on the town budget cannot work in Greenburgh because the majority of voters in the town live in the villages, but pay less than 4% of the taxes.

As a result of such voting, village residents would in essence be deciding how much in taxes taxpayers in the unincorporated areas should pay.

With the unincorporated areas shouldering 96% of the burden, that's called taxation without representation. A lot of tea got dumped in Boston Harbor the last time that was tried.

Nor does it make sense in Greenburgh to restrict voting to the town's unincorporated areas.

In 1997, voters in the unincorporated areas only were asked if they wanted to pay a tax surcharge to cover the cost of acquiring properties for "open space." The idea was to create a fund so that the town board would have the money to buy land and prevent residential developments that would have a detrimental impact on the town's unincorporated areas.

The unincorporated areas voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal, but what happened?

The Feiner-led town board, elected by the unincorporated areas and the villages which have a majority of the population,took the money and used it to pay for the town's share of the purchase of Taxter Ridge, which benefited only the Irvington School District.

Taxpayers in Edgemont, Hartsdale, Fairview and pretty much the rest of unincorporated Greenburgh got nothing for the tax dollars they were assessed exclusively for "open space."

The reality is that Greenburgh is "dysfunctional," just as the Scarsdale Inquirer concluded in its editorial this week. The Inquirer said that the only alternative is for residents of Greenburgh to move out of this dysfunctional town.

One would think that would be a wakeup call, not for gimmicky calls for public referenda on town budgets, but for public officials in Greenburgh to take seriously the fact that their shenanigans have made a mockery of local government in New York.

Will public officials in Greenburgh step to the plate and try to address these issues? That's extremely unlikely.

What's more likely is that residents of the unincorporated areas -- working with state officials and the courts -- will come up with solutions themselves.

Anonymous said...

Taxation without representation, is a reality in unincorporated Greenburgh. Who on the town board stands up for the unincorporated area of town? The answer is another question, "where's the tea?"

For years, I and people like me have used our five minutes at board meeting asking questions-good questions- and received a deafening silence, or worse yet, not evn eye contact. The only time we have a say in our destiny is on election day.
However, we have dropped the ball, each and every time we've voted...or, more accurately, not voted.(Many times fewer than half of the reistered voters even bother to vote.)

The villages have an easier "mountain to climb." In a village, because it's much smaller and more manageable if you don't like what elected official"A" is doing you can muster up enough votes to replace him/her.

In the town, it's a far greater task.

It would be a novel idea to have the right to vote on how elected officials spend your money. Not being a lawyer I'm not certain if it would be possible for Unincorporated residents to vote on the B budget, since they are the only ones effected by the outcome. This can be accomplished by a simple device which we now have in place- election districts.

A problem exists with the A budget which is an unequally shared number effecting both the villages and the unincorporated. However, it does not seem to me to be a monumental task to solve that problem.

The major problem is two-fold:
(A) we must get the budgets separated so we can vote on the B budget ONLY if we live in the unincorporatd;and (B) we have to start holding elected officials "feet to the fire" by paying more attention to what is going on and hold them accountable for their votes. Incumbancy is not a badge of accomplishment, it's simply an apathy on the part of the voters.

Even a $20,000,000 library referendum drew fewer than 5500 votes from a town nearly 10 times that number. Yet those who wanted it to paas, marshalled their supporters and it passed. In similar fashion, we should replicate that strategy each and every time we have a town election.

It's our money and if we don't take care of it, we desrve to lose it.

Let's stop listening to what candidates say, and start paying attention to what they do.Benjamin Franklin in 1837 said," well done is better than well said." Ed Krauss

Anonymous said...

Is there ever going to be cuts in the Police Dept ? probaly NOT!!
It's just a waste of money. We should have civilian EMS and contract with the County and State PD's for police protection. They would come already trained and ready for anything. We already pay taxes for County and State police on top of the money we pay now for town police. It's something to think about for next year. Town of Cortlandt does it and they have no problems. When you call for help they are there in minutes.
Everybody needs to look at the BIG picture!

Anonymous said...

On January 1, 2008 (in just 2 weeks) there will be a functional, not disfunctional board. There will be much more cooperation.

Anonymous said...

Having campaigned in the villages for a policy of "putting the villages first," the town board that will be sworn in on January 1 will almost certainly be more dysfunctional than the existing town board -- at least as far as unincorporated area residents are concerned.

Is the new town board any more likely to put the community center and the indoor pool into the A budget? The answer is no.

Is the new town board any more likely to implement the state comptroller's opinion recommending that costs for cable TV, the town engineer, and the town garage be transferred into the A budget? The answer is no.

Is the new town board any more likely to follow the state comptroller's opinion that, having failed to comply with state law permitting costs of sidewalks to be charged to the unincorporated areas, such costs now belong in the A budget? The answer is no.

Is the new town board going to resume sending millions of dollars of town revenues illegally to the Valhalla School District even though the state comptroller found no evidence to support Feiner's contention that the school district or the Mayfair Knollwood neighborhood was entitled to any such payments? The answer, sadly, is yes.

Against that background, it is understandable why the Scarsdale Inquirer concluded that Greenburgh is a dysfunctional town. It's not going to get any better with the new town board. To the contrary, for unincorporated area residents, who are now being asked to pay a 23% tax increase, it's going to get much much worse.

Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding.
We gave you enough input as to how to lower our budget and it's going on deaf ears.
Politicians do whatever they want to get where they are and then they forget the poor slobs that put them there.
Let sleeping dogs lie.

Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding.
We gave you enough input as to how to lower our budget and it's going on deaf ears.
Politicians do whatever they want to get where they are and then they forget the poor slobs that put them there.
Let sleeping dogs lie.

Concerned citizen said...

Greenburgh suffers why because of all the villages. It was a bad idea from the start and its getting worse. We need one town or city or dissolve greenburgh into the surrounding towns. Its the only way to fix the problems Greenburgh has.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely NO.
Unfortunately most of the voters have no idea what this towns government is really about. Our town politicians can't seem to get it either. It would be, the blind leading the blind. We need real politicians making real decisions. I've seen ours in action and boy is it scary, almost as scary as the weirdo's who speak up at the meetings. All we need to see is the guy flying out of the cannon and it would be officiaL....THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN

Anonymous said...

Greenburgh law prohibits circus's
because they don't want competition!

Anonymous said...

HOW many people use the community center besides the pool?

Anonymous said...

Only the residents in that area, maybe only the residents of the fairview area should pay for anything pertaining to the center. I drove by there a couple of times and all I can say is my children will most certainly not be using the center for anything. I apologize if I offend anyone but it was quite apparrent that gang and drug activity are widespread in the area surrounding Manhattan Ave. Until that place is cleaned up I see no reason to let my children attend any program held there

Anonymous said...

This historical rationale for the villages-unincorporated setup has not been valid for many decades. Unincorporated was a designation for sparsely settled areas with little need of municipal oversight and services.

Obviously, Unincorporated Greenburgh is very different today, yet we opt to maintain the same governmental structure that has been in place for centuries. It's so strange that Unincorporated Greenburgh hasn't reorganized itself as a city or as three villages.

I give a lot of credit to Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Rye Town, Somers, Yorktown, Scarsdale, Bedford, Harrison, Lewisboro, North Castle, New Castle and Pelham which all choose to avoid the silliness of A/B budgets and such.

Anonymous said...

Villages haven't been created from the unincorporated area because every time someone in Edgemont raises the issue there is an huge outcry from folks who tell everyone just how hunky-dory life is in unincorporated Greenburgh.
Then the fur begins to fly -

Anonymous said...

Edgemonters -
Just imagine - if you had created a village your taxes would probably have increased by 12-15%.
Buying into Feiner's lies has resulted in a modest 23% tax increase.
Life under the Paulitburo sure is good.

Anonymous said...

The combined village/unincorporated tax (municipal services) is still higher than the tax for unincorporated Greenburgh residents.

Anonymous said...

So what if combined village/unincorporated tax is higher.

1. Village people can disband village if they want.

2. They get different services (better or not is upt to them).